In the Kitchen Witch Coffee Club this month we’re working with rosemary. This herb has well known links with remembrance…just recall poor, mad Ophelia in Hamlet, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.”
November in the U.K. is also the month in which we remember those who gave up their lives in armed conflicts (human and non-human).
I know an “old” soldier. I asked if they had lost friends in some of the places they have been. They told me the story of a man they knew, Chalky White, killed by a sniper in Northern Ireland. They had driven from one camp to another and this man was the driver. He’d driven into the camp and they’d closed the gates. He had just got out of the cab of his truck. The sniper was so accurate he killed him through the four inch gap between the gates.
This is a true story. It’s not going to be movie, or an award winning novel. But it’s true.
This is what life is like is you take the Queen’s shilling.
People sign up for soldiering for all kinds of reasons, to escape an unhappy home, to get off the streets, to learn a trade, to serve their country.
I’m a dyed in the wool liberal, vegetarian, spiritual, post-modern hippie. I believe in peace and love and honouring the planet. But that anyone would be prepared to stand between me and someone who wants to harm me; that someone would learn how to defend others, and stand up for values of fairness and honour. That’s humbling.
I’ve asked for the names of the people my friend knew so that when they’re not here I can keep remembering.
“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” George Eliot.