Young people aged 16 and 17 from across Staffordshire are being called upon to help continue a 50 year friendship in the spirit of peace and reconciliation.
For half a century, young people from Staffordshire and the city of Bremen in Germany have come together each summer to tend the German and Commonwealth War Graves on Cannock Chase.
This August will see two weeks worth of celebrations between the German War Graves Commission and Staffordshire County Council, and young people from across the county are being asked to join in. They will have the chance to improve their language skills, build new friendships, learn more about the history of World War II, and be involved in projects that concentrate on the theme of peace and reconciliation. Continue reading →
I visited the National Memorial Arboretum near Tamworth on Remembrance Sunday. I have never been there before and my family visited the centre on the best possible occasion. It was a beautiful autumn day and the place was full of people remembering, some old, some young. At the heart of the site is the Armed Forces Memorial. A whitened sepulchre on a hill a vivid tribute to almost 16,000 service personnel who have lost their lives in conflict since the end of the Second World War. Every May the names of the dead of the previous war are added to the monument. There is a great deal of space for any future conflicts. Every year from 1945 is included on the walls with the names of the dead of all three services. It is sobering to think that we have not a single year of peace since the end of the Second World War. Here are names from conflicts in Africa, Korea, Cyprus, the Middle East, the South Atlantic, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world that have seen the deployment of British servicemen and women.
But on what was very emotional day it was the individual acts of remembering that stuck in the memory. A man pattered and delicately traced his finger around a name of a dead soldier. A mother leaving a moving tribute to a 20-year-old son killed in Afghanistan. A poppy lies alongside the picture of a young woman from RAMC. A middle aged man standing in silent tribute to comrades killed on HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War dabbing away a tear and being lead away tenderly by his wife.
One thought that always stays with me every Remembrance Sunday and that war is a failure of peace and diplomacy. Perhaps on such a day of sombre reflection the words of President Eisenhower ” every gun that is made, every warship launched and every rocket launched represents a theft from those that are hungry and not fed” should be recalled.