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For Them, For Now,

For Ever,

Mike Claridge - 25th October 2011

Roundabout - November 2011

St Andrew's, West Bromwich

November is a time of Remembrance. This year is a very special Remembrance time and the Royal British Legion, who lead the country’s tributes, have adopted the above phrase.

This refers the traditional time of Remembrance; the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, with the addition that this year is 2011. Accordingly there will be an extra focus on the day itself, which falls on a Friday this year, as well as Remembrance Sunday which is 13th November.

Although November is a special time of Remembrance there are ways of remembering those who have fallen in the service of others throughout the year. The War Memorials dotted around our towns, villages and churches are an ever present reminder of those who have died serving their county in the Armed Forces during times of war. Just a few miles from here is another place of remembering - The National Memorial Arboretum.

Located just outside Burton-on-Trent the National Memorial Arboretum was founded in 1997 as a place of Remembrance not just for the Armed Services but for other groups too. At it’s heart though is a massive stone semi circular wall to those who have died in the Armed Services. Often a visitor will hear the sound of a stonemason at work on this memorial, carving the names of those who have died in recent weeks in places such as Afghanistan.

The other memorials fall into five groups; Military, Civil Services, Charities, Local and Overseas Organisations. There are memorials for specific events; such as the Burma Campaign, Suez and the Berlin Airlift. Different groups are commemorated in both military and civilian categories. Among others there are memorials for The Royal Engineers, Royal Military Police, Bevin Boys and even the Showman’s Guild. Fire, Police and Ambulance services are represented. There also a memorial for the Boys Brigade, and our own young people here at St Andrew’s were involved when that was opened a few years ago when Laura Bishton did a reading at the event.

One of the most poignant memorials is “Shot at Dawn” which commemorates those individuals, many in their teens, who were shot on charges of cowardice or desertion in the First World War. Now we know that many would have been psychologically damaged by the effects of battle and there is a worthy campaign to have their names added to war memorials across the country.

Near the entrance to the site is the Chapel of Reconciliation where, each day at 11.00am, a two minutes silence is held during a short act of remembrance.

The National Memorial Arboretum is open every day (except Christmas Day) and admission is free. Further details can be found at www.thenma.org.uk

We will remember them!