Talk given (slightly adapted) to two schools for Remembrance on 9th November 2018 at St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park
What colour poppies do you see people wearing at this time of year?
Red ones are the most commonly worn, but you may also see people wearing white ones to symbolise peace, but there’s another colour of poppy:
A purple poppy.
Does anyone know what the purple poppy symbolises?
Purple poppies symbolise the animals that died during the war: Can you think of any jobs animals might have done during the war?
One of the names on our War Memorial is 2nd Lieutenant Dudley Aldin, and if you go on our World War One website and read about his life, you’ll also find out about his dad, Cecil Aldin, who lived in Bedford Park:
Cecil really loved animals: When he lived round here he kept thirteen dogs, two monkeys, and a fox cub in his house! He an expert on horses, and when the war broke out he was too old to go and fight so he became something called an Army Remount Purchasing Officer, which meant that his job was to manage horses which the army took from their owners to send to the battlefields.
Most of these horses didn’t really have a chance of coming back: They would be killed in the fighting – and some of the first horses that Cecil sent off were his own.
Imagine that: How many of you here go horse riding? Do you have a favourite horse?
Or how many of you have pets?
It’s a horrible thought, to have a favourite horse or pet sent away knowing you’d never see them again but that’s exactly what Cecil Aldin went through during the War.
Cecil’s son, Dudley died on the 15th May 1916 at a place called Vimy Ridge in France. He would have been nineteen years old. He had trained as an officer, and knew he was going to fight at the front. He was in France for about six months before he was killed.
Horses weren’t the only things Cecil loved that were sent off to war: The same thing happened to his son.
When people talk about war, particularly those who were around during the first and second world wars, they talk about ‘sacrifice’, about ‘giving’. Sometimes they talk about ‘offering’ – suggesting that those who were killed did so willingly: Which I suppose Dudley did –by choosing to go and train as an officer at Sandhurst he knew what the risks were, as do those who go and train at that same military college today.
But sometimes too people talk about war ‘robbing’ someone of their life – and there were those who did not want to go and fight but were conscripted: By law they had to go.
In the Bible, Jesus draws the attention of his disciples to a poor widow who comes to the synagogue. There was a place in the synagogue where people could give money and there were lots of people giving very large amounts of money.
The widow didn’t give a large amount of money, she gave two small copper coins.
Jesus pointed out to the disciples that whilst it didn’t look like a lot compared to the large amounts being offered, those two small coins were all the widow had: The others were rich enough to afford to give their large amounts with plenty of wealth left over for themselves. But the widow gave everything.
One of the things we’re asked to think about at Remembrance: Particularly this year when we mark a hundred years since the end of the First World War is how much people gave: Their own life, their health, the lives of those they love, whether they chose to give it or whether they gave it because they had to.
What I want you to think about when you leave here today is what’s the biggest most important thing you have to give, and what would be so important that you would give that away.
The widow in the synagogue, Dudley Aldin and his dad Cecil would all be able to answer that: I wonder if we would too.