The service on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, the treaty which brought an end to the First World War, was held in memory of all those who gave their lives in service to their country since 1914.
“This weekend we are gathering across the country to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the Nation, defending our freedoms and protecting our way of life,” said Philippa Rawlinson, Director of Remembrance for the Royal British Legion and Director of the National Memorial Arboretum. “By bringing together people of all ages, from diverse communities, we are passing the baton of Remembrance to future generations, ensuring that the sacrifices made by all who serve will never be forgotten.
“The National Memorial Arboretum, the Nation’s year-round place to remember, plays a critical role in preserving the legacy of the fallen. There are countless stories of service and sacrifice encapsulated within more than 400 memorials, transforming our 150-acre estate into an inspirational space to celebrate lives lived and commemorate lives lost in service, freely open to all.”
The service was led by The Right Reverend Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby, and included an Act of Remembrance, incorporating a two-minute silence at 11am. At the conclusion of the Act of Remembrance, HRH The Princess Royal laid a wreath on the central plinth of the Armed Forces Memorial. The wreath sat adjacent to the giant bronze wreath which captures a shaft of sunlight at 11am on 11 November each year, thanks to a carefully designed gap in the imposing Portland stone walls of the memorial.
The service also included performances from the British Army Band Catterick and a recital by Dan Simpson, the Arboretum’s poet-in-residence, who read his new poem ‘Enduring Freedom’.
By Dan Simpson
What can we give to those who gave themselves?
their poignant loss so great and abiding
gone now into unknown, eternal realms
not here to savour peace after fighting.
We give our words, our prayers, our thanks, our tears
we give them the honour that they are due
we remember them here throughout the years:
but what does their example stir in you?
With their memories in our hearts, we go on
we breathe, feel joy, we speak, have choice: we live
as they fought against what they knew was wrong
we consider this: what more can we give?
For those who paid for our peace with their lives
we can give ourselves to the greater good
to use our time in noble sacrifice
to stand for a better world – as they stood.
Knowing that many people still struggle
in a world that can be cruel and unjust
can we find the courage to face trouble
to understand the lesson they taught us?
They fought for us, for enduring freedom
for a fairer earth we all want to see
though they are gone, there’s still work to be done
the work for every human to be free.