Today we are privileged to be surrounded by words and voices of those who experienced and were touched by the events of World War One. We can listen and reflect on the huge sacrifice that men and women gave as part of the war effort. However, as we think about the aftermath of the ending of World War One, the realty was much different, words were few and far between and it was silence that covered the country.
A sentence that epitomises the atmosphere felt by many after the war had ended was “he was in the war, but he never spoke of it”
The heavy silence that clung to families and individuals who had witnessed and been part of the first world war was much more than a coping mechanism, it was a culture. The ability to put into words the suffering and pain, the horror and the shock was muted.
The majority of personal accounts from the First World War only began to surface ten years after the war. The heavy silence held firm the inexpressible experiences, that all who suffered from the aftermath of the war suffered together, brothers, sisters of the war united and bonded together by silence.
In this silence and emptiness we find ourselves in the shadow of the cenotaph. The cenotaph – which is Greek for the empty tomb, provides a tangible place of mourning for those who lost their lives and have no grave. In this empty tomb this solidarity of silence is eternally held, the memories of those who never came home, the blood that was shed shines around the foot of the cenotaph in the delicate rows of red poppies, the poppies that grew from the earth that entombs those who fought on those frightful fields.
At the empty tomb we are faced with sadness, silence, and shock, yet we see a glimpse of hope, the hope that we glimpse like the disciples did in the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus, He is not here he is risen, the hope of a resurrected life, the hope of peace, the looking and pointing to a new way of life.
Those who we remember today dared to hope for peace and gave their lives for its cause. and as the sun goes down and the warm glow of heavy setting light brushes down the empty tomb, the petals of the poppies glow with their deepest red, and in the silence as we are untied and bonded together, we also dare to hope for peace in the world.