By Susan Bagshaw
We have always regarded Remembrance Day at Saint John’s with reverence and deep respect towards those who have fought for peace and who have protected our rights and freedoms throughout the world.
This year we wanted to do something really special. We wanted to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice, particularly from our parish.
Our idea was not a new one by any means, but we were excited to do something meaningful – not only for our congregation, but also to our local community as an outward and visible sign of remembrance.
Over the summer we discussed our plan in secrecy and Jean’s husband Don made 34 crosses and we painted them white. It is worthy of note that only 33 were from our parish, the 34th was in memory of Jean’s father who died in World War II when she was a young child and who was the inspiration for our project.
My job was to paint a poppy along with the names of each of our fallen soldiers from World Wars I & II taken from our church’s bell tower where their names have been engraved for perpetuity on memorial plaques that hang there.
The verse on the stained glass window says “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Isaiah 2:3–4
As I sat and wrote each name down carefully, certain family names still sounded familiar to me. I wonder how their families would have been different today had they not paid the terrible price of war?
The sad reminder every year is that we have not yet managed to live in a world of peace. We are a world more desperate than ever in need of God’s healing grace. A simple glance at the Syrian refugee crisis alone barely scratches the surface of our need to love one another so much better than we are doing today.
To all the men and women of our age, ages past or the ages yet to be who have given of themselves in the quest for peace among humankind which is more elusive in this world than it has ever been, we submit our gratitude.
Now, on November 11th we can say: “We shall remember them. We shall remember them.
Susan Bagshaw is a parishioner of St. John’s, Cambridge.