Remembrance Day 2014 From a Salvation Army Bandsman’s perspective . . .
Published on: 26 Nov 2014
Sunday November 11, 2014, and it’s 10:20am. I, along with my colleagues in the Staple Hill Citadel Band of The Salvation Army are assembling at the front of the parade from our start point, outside the Royal British Legion hall in Staple Hill.
This is the 93rd year this band has led the Remembrance Day parade in Staple Hill. Is it me, or are there more people in the parade this year? It’s 10:40am, and the parade Sergeant Major announces “by the left, quick march” - we’re off. As we turn onto the High Street we are greeted by a sea of smart phone snapping cameras and videos......is it me, or are there more people on the streets this year?
The band strike up the march, and the drum beats. Not easy this marching, blowing, thinking, making dots on paper become music, keeping line to the front, keeping in line to the right, keeping in step to the drum, following the flag. But it is made a lot easier by the excellent traffic control by our local police.
We arrive, and the formations are taken around the cenotaph in Page Park for the service of remembrance. Is it me, or is this the most people I have seen packed into the park for this service?. 11am, two minute silence - and it IS silence - the sun is shining, and all you can hear are the birds.
My friend and band colleague proudly marches and takes his position for the Last Post. It brings a lump to my throat as I note the rank on rank of medals adorned on not just the ‘old soldiers’ of the British Legion, but on many younger ones too, with wreath after wreath of poppies in remembrance from all parts of our community.
The service concludes, and we make our way through the crowds to form up and march all the way back to the British Legion hall. The parade concludes and disperses, and I bump into a war veteran, a friend who I’ve not seen for a while - but this one is in his thirties, proudly displaying his medals from Afghanistan. Is it me, or is this a stark reminder that history shows humanity hasn’t learnt?!
It’s over for another year, but we will never forget those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom - from 1914 to present day. “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”. Will I see you there next year? The Bandsman