Dennistoun New


Ministers Musings

Saturday 29th September saw the unveiling of the Memorial Stone in Alexandra Park. The stone is in memory of those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. And, of course, this year on the 11th November at the eleventh hour will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

For many young people this occasion may seem irrelevant but there are still those with us who remember or know about members of their families who gave their lives in the First World War. For though time has moved on the memory of those men and women who gave their lives still lives on in memoriam.

‘They shall not grow old, as they 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.’

Remembering is more than just a one-off act. Remembering should be shown in how we live our lives. How we use the freedom and opportunities we have, especially to make our nation a better place to live in. A place where the vulnerable are cared for, a place where the foreigner is welcomed and made to feel at home. This extends into the wider world too. Seeking to forge friendly links between nations that once fought at great cost to the ordinary people of each nation. Seeking to work with other nations to break down barriers and build bridges that will last nurturing peace.

So, when we wear our poppies we wear them to acknowledge the bravery and heroism of those who served their nations to protect us from bullies and empire builders. We do not glorify war or empires but rather we honour the bravery of brave men and women who in many cases had no choice but to fight.

The remembrance poppy was inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields". Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers' graves in Flanders, a region of Belgium:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The sight of these delicate, vibrant red flowers growing on the shattered ground caught the attention of a Canadian soldier by the name of John McCrae. He noticed how they had sprung up in the disturbed ground of the burials around the artillery position he was in. It was during the warm days of early May 1915 when he found himself with his artillery brigade near to the Ypres-Yser canal (Belgium). He is believed to have composed a poem following the death of a friend at that time. The first lines of the poem have become some of the most famous lines written in relation to the First World War.

The poppy is a reminder to us of the blood shed by that horrific First World War. Also, that out of the chaos and destruction of war can come hope, new life, new beginnings, all is not lost. Though men from different nations are often thrown into conflict with each other by forces beyond their control they can come together and join hands to make the world a better place.

We also see the poppy petals dropped in the Albert Hall reminding us of the many, many lives lost. The symbol of the poppy reminds us also of those killing fields of that War, ‘The Great War’, the war that was supposed to end all wars. A reminder to be vigilant regarding the peace that we enjoy now. We are reminded that the peace we have now is a costly peace.

For many of us Remembrance will mean different things. For some, memories of people lost in the two World Wars. For others, memories of those who were lost in the World Wars and other conflicts. For me I remember that my Father fought as a Black Watch soldier in the Second World War seeing action in Africa and Italy and my Mother who served the soldiers and officers of the Second World War in Europe after D-Day as a member of the NAAFI. My Father was left with memories he’d rather not have had of conflict, battles and comrades lost, memories dear to him but immensely painful and sad.

And, now we are here today with the cherished and loved memories of our loved ones who gave their lives and those who survived but faced circumstances that none of us would wish for.

‘They shall not grow old, as they 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.’

I look forward to seeing you as we gather on Sunday 11th November to honour them. Let us also pray that such a war as the First World War never ever arises again. Let us pray that one day indeed there will be no more wars!

Peace to you. Your Friend and Minister,

Ian McInnes


Scottish Charity Number: SC008824