Yesterday was VJ Day and the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 in the Pacific. Yes, that’s a long way away in both time and distance. I was asked to conduct a brief service at the Mildenhall Cenotaph and here are my thoughts for the occasion.
It is horrible to be forgotten – to be left out. We all know that and we’re horrified if we forget some-one unintentionally, by accident. Do it on purpose and everyone understands the pain it causes – it sends a message – which might find hard interrupting because it goes against the grain to ignore, leave out, cut off, forget.
Cenotaphs exist so that we do not forget and people gather around them to remember and give thanks and make commitments for the future be-cause sadly in history and in the history of wars people may be forgotten – those who die, those who lose, and even those who come home.
Today the UK commemorates VJ Day – Victory over Japan – when the Second World War finished in what for you is the Far East but for me was the North. It’s a long way away and we tend to be Europe focused regarding this war and so the stories of the soldiers in the Far East are largely unknown – or summarised without details in names – Singapore, Changi, Burma, HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse – and to the fact it took up to 27 months for soldiers to come home back to the UK after this day! These names need details.
All of us live on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. That is how fami-lies and societies work. You hope for better for each generation and part of that is not forgetting the past.
May we never forget war so that we will find ways to live in justice and peace with one another. And may we also know that even if our names aren’t ever written in a history book that each of us – you – are unique and special in this time and this place and we do shape the lives of the people around us and the God who has nail marks in his hands never forgets a single one of us. — GS