Further reflections on Armistice Day
Standing in St Nicholas's Gardens, Whitehaven during the short act of remembrance which was held at 11 am this morning, in absolutely filthy weather, I was struck by how many people attended the ceremonies both on Sunday and today.
And in both cases many of those were young people.
As the First World War gradually slips from living memory into history, it my impression that remembering the cost of war is taken even more seriously, not less, and this is very welcome.
As a small boy I was aware that my grandfather, one or two of my older teachers, and a few of the oldest members of the congregation at Church were First World War veterans and that many of the men of my father's generation had served in World War Two. My mother was a girl at the time of the second world war, but to the end of her life she could hold an audience of children spellbound by describing some of her wartime experiences. So even though I was not born until some years later, the presence in my upbringing of people for whom both wars were a vivid and personal memory made them part of my country's recent past, not ancient history.
Having had my children relatively late in life, it was a sobering thought when I realised that for my son, veterans of the second war are rarer in his experience than those of the first war were for me.
There is a saying that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. But if the young people who took part in Remembrance Services in Whitehaven this week are anything to go by (particularly the four brave sentires who stood solidly to attention on each side of the War Memorial in Castle Park on Sunday despite the bitter cold, or the children from St James's School who were very well behaved in even more horrible weather in St Nicholas's Gardens today), many young people in Britain today are in no danger of making that mistake.