On Sunday, silence descended as the annual Act of Remembrance was made at official ceremonies across our community. The silence broken by the moving rendition of the Last Post. In a few short notes, it has always struck me as an extraordinary piece of music in its ability to convey such depth and emotion. This year I looked into the background of it, with assistance of research provided by the British Legion.
The Last Post in the Army was used to signal to men injured or separated in the field of battle that the fighting was over. The soldiers knew they should follow the bugle to be guided to safety and rest. It was also the welcome sound to signify that the camp was secure for the night. So, a call to come home, a call to security and rest.
As I listened to it this year and we said The Lord’s Prayer, I found myself reflecting on the sacrifice and bravery of a war being fought again in Europe. This week there were advances by Ukraine and a retreat by Russia in the area of Kherson. Wars are marked often by both advances and defeats. An ebb and flow of multiple battles being fought in different locations within the overall war zone.
This is a war where we have chosen a side, not chosen to sit on the sidelines. The UK has chosen to stand with Ukraine. Britain is providing millions of pounds of weapons, as well as training the Ukrainian military here in the UK. We are providing aid and support to refugees displaced within Ukraine, displaced to other parts of Europe and who have refuge in homes in the UK. Earlier this year I travelled to the frontier between Russia and Poland. The Polish border force were tense and on high alert as the British delegation approached the No-Man’s land with its curled barbed wire tangled through the woodlands. It was eerily silent, as the usual bustling traffic between the nations had ceased.
Part of that battlefront from Ukraine has spilled over into energy supply and food, as Russia has blocked energy supplies, driving domestic bills sky high. Ukraine is sometimes called the ‘bread basket’ of Europe for its grain and other food farming. Food security worldwide has been hit by the war, driving food prices up.
So as with other wars past, this war is not of our making. It is a war of shared values for which we have taken responsibility. The sacrifice of the Ukrainian people is so much greater than ours. Yet there is a price here and we need to hold firm in the belief it is a price worth paying. We are supporting the fight for freedom, democracy, nationhood and sovereignty – values that define and enshrine our own nation and our beloved country.