Today commemorates the centenary of the first Armistice Day signally the end of World War 1. At 11am throughout the country we will observe 2 minutes silence to remember this momentous occasion and of course all those who lost their lives during that most horrendous war. November for us in the Catholic Church as stated in my last sharing is a time we pray for our beloved dead. It is touching and in keeping with this tradition to remember all those who died during the war. They are not forgotten! We pray and give thanks for the sacrifice they made and to the families who suffered and mourned their beloved children.
‘Sons of Gallipolli’ (track 10) from ‘Serenity’ is the song I have chosen for you to listen to in light of these men.
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In many towns and cities throughout this country we have memorials depicting soldiers as the protagonists and as the symbol of the fallen but inside the National War Memorial in Wellington we have a bronze sculpture by Lyndon Smith of a woman with two small children as the focal point. One is immediately alerted to the fact that it was families who endured the loss of husbands and fathers and they were the ones left to pick up the pieces.
The Gospel reading for this Sunday relays the famous story of the widow’s mite taken from Mark 12:38-44. The reference to widow’s connects for me with all those women who experienced the loss of their men during the Great War. Jesus in speaking of the widow’s poverty and precarious position in giving all she had to the temple coffers speaks to me today too of the poverty and heart-breaking positions many women found themselves in after the war having given away not money but the precious lives of those they loved. Perhaps many of you have family stories that have been handed down about those sad times.
Many of you will know my song, ‘Sons of Gallipoli’ from the album ‘Serenity’. In the chorus I sing, ‘How still they lie and how still they die on other hillsides’. We remember those sons and all others who have lost their lives in the futility of war.
We are very fortunate to live in a country far from the conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. Soldiers still die, and families continue to mourn the loss of loved ones, often innocent victims caught up in the fighting. As we remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of November one hundred years ago may we recommit ourselves to choosing peaceful means to resolve the conflicts we face. When conflicts on the world stage seem overwhelming, we can at least take responsibility for our own actions.