Having spent a lot of my life in Belgium, there were constant reminders for those of us fortunate to share in the experience - lest we forget.
Indeed, at the Menin Gate Memorial in the Belgian town of Ypres, every night at 6pm a bugle sounds and everything stops, as the people of Ypres stop to pay homage to a group of young men who changed the course of history and the very nature of the world as we know it.
The Menin Gate Memorial at the eastern exit of the town of Ypres (known as "Ieper" in Dutch) in Flanders, Belgium, marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line during World War I.
Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built by the British government, the Menin Gate Memorial opened on 24 July 1927 as a monument dedicated to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the fierce battles around the Ypres Salient area who have no known grave.
The names of 54,896 British and Commonwealth soldiers, who gave their lives in the First World War are recorded there. And this list does not include those missing in action. It is of course only one of many memorials around the world. People I did not know, have never met, will never be even remotely acquainted or familiar with, have laid down their lives for me…for my children…and my children’s children.
They sacrificed their hopes, their ambitions their dreams, in order that I, and thousands of others could realise our dreams. That we could enjoy the freedoms, which alas many of us, take for granted without a second thought. Freedom of association…of worship…of political persuasion to name but a few. The vast array of uncensored books in our libraries - encouraging freedom of thought and expression without recrimination or persecution.
And as the dark shadow of Fascism and Nazism rampaged across Europe and Africa with its ethnic cleansing policies, laying waste to all before them, it seemed our world stood on the precipice of its darkest age.
But from that darkness was born an inextinguishable light, a light which shone as a beacon to the rest of the rest of the world and for generations yet to come. Where did it come from ? From the glens of Scotland and Ulster, the valleys of Wales, the dales and the shires of England, from a Commonwealth of people from around the world, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, united in their stand against tyranny, oppression and persecution.
Determined, resolute, steadfast, and courageous unto death – driven by a desire for good and to protect the values their fathers and forefathers passed down to them.
They were the light that brought an end to the darkness which threatened our world.
The bible tells us there is no greater love than a life laid down for friends. But what of thousands of lives laid down for complete strangers ?At the going down of the sun and in the morning….we will remember them. But not just on the 11th of November.
But yesterday…today and forever.