Remembrance Sunday 2014
When we stand at our war memorials on Remembrance Sunday and pay our respects for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country, it’s inevitable we tend to think of those who lost their lives in the two world wars.
However, Remembrance Sunday is for all those who gave their lives in the service of their country irrespective of the conflict, and, in recent years, such losses have been felt quite close to home.
In November 2009, 40-year-old Grenadier Guards Regimental Sergeant Major Darren Chant, whose family lived in Horndean, was killed in Afghanistan. And in July 2011, his name became the first to be added to the Horndean war memorial since 1945.
And, in June 2010, 23-year-old Royal Marine Richard Hollington, from 40 Commando, who lived in Petersfield, sadly became the 300th member of the British Armed Forces to be killed in Afghanistan. He was injured by an explosion while on patrol in the Helmand province, brought back to the UK for treatment but died at the New Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Portsmouth-born Colour Sergeant Kevin Fortuna, 36, from A Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles, was also killed in Afghanistan in May 2011, while on patrol in the Saidabad Kalay area of the Nahr-e Saraj (South) district of Helmand province.
And in October 2012, Royal Marine Corporal David O’Connor, 27, from Havant, was shot and killed in Helmand while overseeing training of local Afghan police during his third tour of Afghanistan with 40 Commando.
These are just four local heroes who should be remembered next month alongside the thousands we mourn from the two world wars and other 20th century arenas which are often overlooked, such as the Korean War, the Falklands conflict and the first Gulf War.
For all of them, we pay tribute. And it is worth just reflecting once more on the words of the Ode of Remembrance, from Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem ‘For the Fallen’. 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.