Column: Centenary Remembrance Day

The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 9th November:

This Sunday marks the annual Remembrance Day commemoration, where we come together to remember those who have given their lives in service of our country.

The event has rightly become a familiar date in our national calendar, and gives us all the opportunity to pay our respects.

But this year of all years perhaps holds even more poignancy than usual.

Because as the Last Post sounds this Sunday and the country falls into silence, it will be 100 years since the end of the First World War.

100 years since the Armistice was signed in 1918.

100 years since the guns fell silent in fields across Europe and so many other corners of the world that this war scarred. 

And 100 years since the end of one of the most devastating conflicts in history that saw millions of lives lost across the globe, including over 700,000 from Britain.

That included many from right here in Barnsley, most notably the ‘Barnsley Pals’.

Responding to Lord Kitchener’s call, they were friends and family, and included labourers, miners, and glassworkers.

They enlisted and joined up together, trained side by side, and so many of them died that way, too.

Wives, parents, siblings, families and friends of all kinds back home suffered, left with gaping holes of loss in their lives that would never be healed.

Our community here in Barnsley, too, was devastated – a feeling replicated in villages, towns and cities across the country.

And 100 years on, as the experience of the First World War slips finally from living memory, we’re reminded again of the importance in remembering those who sacrificed everything so we could maintain the freedoms we enjoy to this day.

Indeed, Remembrance Day is an opportunity to commemorate all of those who have given their lives in wars; from those in fields of Europe from which poppies grew a century ago, to recent conflicts in which people from Barnsley and across the UK have made similar sacrifices.

So like Hoyland last year, I’ll be laying a wreath in Darfield on Sunday and thinking of them all.

And on this important centenary anniversary of a devastating conflict we must never forget, I hope you will too.

We will remember them.