The following appeared in my column for the Barnsley Chronicle on November 10th:
Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the unveiling of a memorial in Barnsley to the soldiers who died at the Battle of the Somme, a hundred years ago.
The commemorative art was adorned with many of the faces of those from Barnsley who were lost in the infamous WW1 battle.
The ‘Barnsley Pals’, as they were known, were two companies of soldiers who answered Lord Kitchener’s famous call to arms, and enlisted together to fight for their country and community in the Great War.
But the losses they eventually experienced were horrific, including around 300 men killed on July 1st 1916 alone – the very first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The impact this had on their families and the community back home in Barnsley was devastating, but unfortunately not dissimilar to that witnessed in cities, towns and villages across the country.
Seeing the faces of many of those Barnsley Pals who had died at the Somme was an incredibly pertinent and sobering reminder of the sacrifices they made to maintain the freedoms we enjoy today.
So, as Remembrance Day approaches it’s still so important we remember all of them; from those who fought and died on those poppy-covered fields in Flanders, to the other conflicts through the ensuing decades.
It often feels like we live in a fast-paced and ever-changing world, and one that seems to be increasing characterised with deep political division.
But Remembrance Sunday reminds us there are sometimes more important things.
Regardless of political persuasion, we can all take a moment to remember and commemorate those who have given their lives for our country.
It is our shared history, and one which has affected our community and so many people in it.
So on Sunday, when the country falls silent and still and the Last Post sounds, that’s what I’ll be thinking of; those faces of the Barnsley Pals, and many others like them who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
We will remember them.