Pinchbeck Remembrance: it should not have been about the church
Wherever I have lived, I have attended the Armistice Parade in that community and have always thought that the occasion was given the reverence it deserves.
However, on attending the Memorial Gardens, in Pinchbeck, Spalding on Sunday, November 11, I was sadly disappointed. On arriving I saw that people were going into church at 10.30am and that the timing for the Service was 10.45am. This made me think that it would be a very short service to allow for the two minutes' silence at the Memorial itself, followed by the wreath laying.
No such ceremony happened. At 11am, I, along with a few others (of the 40-50 people in attendance) held our own, private, two minutes of silence and reflection. Children were running about and people continued chatting as there was no formal request for any silence and after, there was a realisation that most people there, had ‘missed it’!
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I am horrified by the lack of respect and dignity that such an important date in our history should have commanded. The neglect of organisations involved in the planning of this momentous occasion took the bringing of people together away from the people themselves.
This ceremony is not about the church and never should be. This is about community, Remembrance, passion and reflection, bringing together people from all walks of life, who have their own reasons for their acts of humility. The Queen does not need a church ceremony prior to attending Whitehall to offer her respects. The church can hold its own service at any other time for churchgoers, as I for one do not need the church to remember.
How is it possible that the church feels of greater significance to the memories of the fallen than the memorial on which these serving men are remembered and held in the highest regard?
I understand from talking to people that a two minutes' silence was held in the church during the service. What about the people outside? Fully prepared to offer their silences also, but were completely ignored. Parents and grandparents, children, old boys, young men and women - all were there for this most historic occasion. An occasion that was ruined by short sightedness and contempt, an occasion that can never be repeated in our lifetime. What a dishonourable way to ‘respect’ the fallen.
Why was it deemed not fitting to hold a two minutes' silence at the memorial? This year was of momentous proportion and of the utmost importance in history. Many people on Sunday were robbed of their part in this history which was to pay their respects and stand on the shoulders of giants – as these men truly were.
How is it possible that the organisation, of the travesty that was held, demanded the road to be closed three times? Drivers understood the first closure, for the parade, and would uphold a second closure for the parade to cross the road to attend the Memorial for 11am. However, a third closure for the parade to leave at 11.45am was unacceptable for most people, quite rightly. They wished to go about their business unheeded, as the hour of commemoration had passed.
What were the British Legion thinking? The belief that those who could cram into a church have more rights than the people who were prepared to stand in front of the Memorial and pay their respects in an organised tribute to the fallen? The church has no bearing on this tribute, other than to offer simple prayers for the fallen and for the people present and give time for direct thinking or reflection.
None of these men are honoured in the church. The Remembrance Ceremony should be a simple ceremony for the common man, with fanfares, pomp and respect for the heroes. The British Legion should be the one organisation who should have fought this year, more than any other, to have a significant, organised and meaningful tribute to honour the heroes of the Great War, 100 years on. The British Legion, certainly in Pinchbeck, did nothing for the people of the community, who served their country well.
I shall never be part of any tribute in Pinchbeck again. Had I known that this was how real men were to be honoured, I would have gone elsewhere to show my respect and not been part of the pantomime that ensued. How you have dishonoured these men and their families. The Church, the Parish Council and the British Legion should all be ashamed to say they played a part in it. I know I am.