The 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. A time to remember and also, I think, to celebrate those who have served or are currently serving our country. That's how I see the day. It's also an opportunity to reach out to my Poppa, who was part of the British Land Army.
My Poppa Peter is incredible and has my absolute respect, not just as a Grandfather, but also as a man. He served in the second World War and always told me how lucky he felt that he was never in direct combat. My Pop worked in the store rooms, organizing rations for the troops as well as other clerical duties. He has a million stories from his travels through East Africa and Egypt. He also told me once that all parties concerned were fighting for what they thought was right. Even the opposition. A lot of them were young men, that were scared of pulling the trigger and ending another man's life. Growing up, it was really important to know stuff like this.
Most people would know someone whose either served or serving in the armed forces and it's days like today that it all hits home. When we take that moment to reflect on what happened in the world to get us to where we are now. It really does make me feel grateful and I try not to take life for granted because of those kinds of sacrifices.
I read a quote today that I had previously not heard. It was in an interview with RSL National President Robert Dick, who stated that there was a very simple saying in the armed forces that went like this: "When you sign up for the military, you're signing a blank cheque with your life.” It was something so simple, but also so powerful. It said to me that nobody knows how much they're giving when they sign up, but that they're prepared to give it all. It was enough to make you both sad and proud.
There was one thing today, I have to admit, that made me really upset and even quite angry. I'm here in the studio, while we were in the middle of playing our tribute piece for Remembrance Day and I was standing up in front of the desk I usually sit at to do the show. Thinking about all the things I was hearing and some of the personal recounts from surviving family and veterans, I was going back in my mind to all the good times I've had growing up and how lucky I am to be able to have these days of freedom. It's how I and many, many others were raised. It was during this time, however, that out of the corner of my eye I saw 5 teenagers in the car park across from the station all on their phones. Totally oblivious to what most of the country was paying tribute to. I should have been paying attention to the tribute piece, and for the most part, I was. I kept thinking they'd probably realise it a little late and stop, but I knew deep down they probably had no idea it was something worth respecting. They were all standing around, none of them talking to each other and all busy texting, which isn't actually too abnormal these days.
However... It made me really angry that they seemingly had no idea what today means. These weren't 12-13 year old teenagers, they were in their late teens. It made me really upset that they only had to spend a moment to stop and reflect on how lucky they are to be able to live in a world where they can waste it texting. I pretty quickly turned my attention back to the Remembrance Day tribute piece. As it transitioned from the famous quotes of "We will remember them" into Dire Straits 'Brothers In Arms', I really began to feel that swell of patriotic pride that comes with moments like that.
I remember back in school, for the week leading up to it, we'd have a minute silence together, even if the 11th fell on a Saturday. We'd have a whole week of celebrations or at the very least be talking about the event and why it's so important to remember. It was how we were raised.
For the younger generations, though. I just wonder whether we're starting to lose them to technology and other pass-times. Understandably, people still have to work and get things done. It's life. But for those 5 teenagers to be stood around, seemingly unknowing of what we we were remembering, it makes you ask the question: Do kids today have the same respect for the values that previous generations hold? Are they becoming so far removed from reality, that they simply don't even know about today? Or do they think it's enough to put a simple Facebook post up, with the generic tagline and picture of a poppy? I'd like to hope it's not the case.
We will Remember them.