It was heartening to hear of a good turnout at Blackpool war memorialfor Sunday’s Remembrance Day – despite bitter cold.
We usually attend a smaller ceremony at the remembrance cross in St. Paul’s, here in Great Marton – with a rather moving lone bugler’s salute. However, this year I’d been struck down by the ‘lurgi’, so watched proceedings at the Mall on telly.
The veterans’ reminisces reminded me of an old boy I met at my local pub on Remembrance Day many years ago. The Saddle, Blackpool’s oldest inn, always got a good turnout after the ceremony, particularly from the local fire bridge but also with many decorated vets.
I was squeezed up at the bar and happened to mention going home to watch classic war film A Bridge Too Far. The old boy who, incidentally, was courting one of our more elderly barmaids, nodded and casually informed me, “Of course, the real thing was nothing like that film – it was a complete disaster.”
He’d been there, at the famous strategic battle in Arnhem in the Netherlands. It was an education to hear his true recollections of how it had really been for those paratroopers struggling to hold a vital bridge.
There are still ex-paratroopers, as well as fire officers, attending the pub today. It was also encouraging to see many young people saluting the fallen, along with tributes to the often understated contribution from women, in different walks of life and service.
The strongest emotion emerging from those who fought in their various ways is always the comradeship. It is something only those involved truly understand.
To the rest of us, of all ages, who benefited and continue to live happily thanks to their sacrifice, comes the priceless legacy of freedom.
Long may we remember and, with renewed respect, humbly learn. With luck, it may just save us from more disasters.
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