A few years ago I led a guided walk around my locality (Wood Green, North London) on the subject of remembrance.
Beforehand I spent an afternoon in a local museum reading the original handwritten records of the bombings from WWII in the area. Explosive bombs, fire bombs, V1s, V2s etc as well as related matters like the internment of German speakers in Ally Pally. That afternoon was a heart breaking experience and I left in tears.
It opened my eyes to the ‘new’ buildings in old streets; tell-tales signs of homes and lives destroyed by bombs. I also read the press reports of incidents, like the one where people sheltering from the bombing only to be sent to their maker by a bomb that ran down the ventilation shaft and wiped everyone out.
And then there was the opening of the local war memorial just opposite the Haringey Civic Centre. Of course, every community had their own memorials. But for this little local one, over 60,000 turned out! That’s more than fits in the Spurs ground! The war affected everyone, and everyone had a story to tell and traumas to be remembered.
So this coming 11-11-11, open your eyes to the signs of trauma that are around but most often passed by and ignored.
And lets remember those still suffering from new wars. Those with mental as well as physical scars. Those with horrific memories which are too awful to verbalise, and which may destroy the person from within. Yes remember with sorrow those killed in wars, but also the homeless vets who can’t hold it together now they are back home.
And lets look forward and be a bit more creative. Lets offer sanctuary to today’s refugees. Don’t let them be like the Anne Franks who were rejected by America to face a fate we already know about.
Let’s cultivate a little compassion.
(Photo album of Guided Walk around Wood Green: https://www.flickr.com/photos/willnewcomb/albums/72157651239099843)