By Brian Robinson.
I was born in London just after the end of the Second World War. Evidence of the conflict was never far away from our house, buildings supported by huge wooden props, abandoned housing and bombsites. We used to play amongst it. And the conversation in our house often strayed to talk of the bombs, doodlebugs and the incendiary devices that Hitler had brought to our door. These memories are etched into my childhood thoughts.
I have always been drawn to and fascinated by poppies. My house is full of them. For me they hold a double symbolism. They talk of rebirth and regeneration; but they also remind me that we, like poppies, seem to seek out disturbed and stony ground. It’s almost as if we are drawn to war.
I and my family have made our own pilgrimage to the conflict zones of both world wars. The Somme, Utah and Omaha beach and Pegasus Bridge have all been purged of the blood loss. Only museums and headstones remain. Thank God we are not haunted by the memories of those conflicts as our armed forces must have been.
On this D-Day I am also mindful that this was a world war fought on many fronts by many nations. We all owe thanks to each other for the parts we played in our common fight against fascism and expansionism.
It is right that we should remember them on this day. If it were not for their sacrifice, I shudder to think what life would have been like. But we should remember them on all days. And the best way to honour and respect their suffering: is to turn our backs on self-interest in all its forms; to treat our planet with the respect it deserves so that those who come after can enjoy it too; and to show love and compassion to all humanity regardless of colour, creed, or circumstance. We are all brothers and sisters in life.