THE SYMBOLISM of Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier laying a wreath at the Cenotaph on the centenary of the Armistice was emblematic of the respectful tone of commemorative events across Britain, Europe and the Commonwealth to mark the end of the First World War.
Reconciliation has been one of the defining themes of the past four years as communities across the county, and country, took it upon themselves to mark the heroism of their forebears and, in doing so, better understand a conflict erroneously described as the war to end all wars.
It was not, hence why the memorial services from the presence of the Royal family and political leaders in Whitehall, and a service at Westminster Abbey attended by the Queen and Mr Steinmeier, to the equally dignified tributes which took place in every city, town and parish had so much personal meaning to so many.
Yet, while there was a period in relatively recent history when some did not always appreciate the significance of this annual act of remembrance, each individual story of sacrifice in two world wars, and more recent conflicts, has had a profound collective impact on the nation’s conscience.
This was illustrated by the unprecedented number of people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths who paid their respects at memorial events, remembered the bravery of ancestors and recognised the valiant work being undertaken today by the Armed Forces.
To those who were fearful that the centenary of the First World War would see a waning in these tributes, they can be reassured that this generation knows that its duty is to remember all those who did not return home from foreign fields, and to pray that this century is more peaceful than the last. To paraphrase the still evocative words of poet Laurence Binyon, we did remember them and we will always do so.