At the Going Down of the Sun, and in the Morning ….

… we will remember them.

On Sunday 11 November 2018 I joined 9,999 other people from across the UK to walk past the Cenotaph in the Nation’s Thank You procession. 

You can see a video of the Nation’s Thank You procession, and some photos, here on this page of the armistice 100 website. 

I was thrilled to have been picked in the ballot and honoured to march behind the veterans after the Remembrance Service had been concluded, even if it did feel odd not standing in my usual place opposite the Cenotaph to watch the ceremony.

However I don’t want to end my remembrance project with my own words. Instead I want to use all of Laurence Binyon’s poem, from which this post’s title is taken. It was written in the early 1914 by a man who was too old to serve and so holds to the image of war as something proud and noble that was washed away by the years of suffering that followed. But it is more than outdated propaganda because it holds within it hope, a hope that I assume many of the men who fought also held. And because it never fails to make me weep.  

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, 
England mourns for her dead across the sea. 
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, 
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal 
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, 
There is music in the midst of desolation 
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young, 
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. 
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; 
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; 
They sit no more at familiar tables of home; 
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; 
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound, 
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, 
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known 
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, 
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; 
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, 
To the end, to the end, they remain.

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