Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month ...

Tomorrow is the 11th of November. I will go into the town centre and stand for a couple of minutes in silence, surrounded by other townspeople as we remember those who died as a result of war.
No war is ever over. After the ceasefire has been declared people still mourn, lives are changed for ever. To my mind it is not a time to think of victories and defeats, of glory or disgrace. It is a time to think of mothers, fathers, lovers, children torn apart by violence.
As I stand in my hometown I will be thinking of war graves three thousand miles away. Fajara War Cemetery in The Gambia. White stones, inscribed for the most part, with the names of young men. Young men who died in the service of a country they had never seen but were willing to give their lives for. A tiny, Third World country, the size of Yorkshire gave the flower of its youth for us. There, in blistering tropical heat people will stand in silence as we do, though we most likely, will stand bare-headed in the rain.
Fajara graves carry the memories of 200 or more West Africans, 63 British people, 15 men from other Commonwealth countries, and a French Foriegn Legion Colonel. The crew and passengers of flying boat G-AFCZ 'Clare', which took off from Banjul (then Bathurst) harbour then crashed into the sea are remembered there.
The killing, the dying, goes on. Why is peace so difficult?