The haunting words of Laurence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen, were penned in September 1914 following early British casualties at the outbreak of the Great War. In particular, the stanza:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
always makes me tear up. There is something deeply profound and compelling about the promise to remember – a duty owed to those who served and continue to serve our country.
It’s been an emotional year working on the Soldier Information Cards, coupled with recent murders of two Canadian servicemen on home soil and Canada’s new military role in Iraq. I am reminded everyday of the lives, young and old, which were lost, shattered and forever changed by conflict and in the struggle to maintain peace and order.
I don’t come from a military family. However, I have recently discovered a cousin of my Welsh great-grandfather who fought with the Royal West Surrey Regiment in the First World War. Private Robert J. H. Edwards died in battle, at the age of 30, on 22 October 1917, in Belgium, leaving behind a wife and four young children in South Wales. The details of his military career and life are still sketchy, but I feel compelled to keep digging to find out more – to tell his story, to remember.
Who will you remember?