Our Island Nation United by a Common Story

The Revd. Canon Kathryn Windslow, Rector of Storrington, leading a Service of Remembrance accompanied by the Royal British Legion, Storrington Branch, and Royal Navy Association standard bearers, Des Knight and Richard Shenton.

Last Sunday and this week we once again reflect upon the costs of defending righteousness, freedom and liberty, giving thanks not only for our allies but also for reconciliation and peace.

The poignant image of Her Majesty The Queen laying a wreath based on her wedding bouquet at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, accompanied by only a handful of people, brought home the loss and separation experienced by families through war.

The Remembrance Sunday service next to the Cenotaph in Whitehall echoed this.

Outside churches across Britain, Europe and America the common story and Christian heritage which unites us was expressed in services of Remembrance and thanksgiving. Beside War Memorials across Britain these familiar bidding words were heard:

“We have come to remember before God those who have died for their country in the two world wars and the many conflicts of the years that have followed. Some we knew and loved: we treasure their memory still. Others are unknown to us: to their remembrance too, we give our time…With thanksgiving we recall services offered and sacrifices made…”

In Storrington Remembrance Sunday has become the largest Civic service of the year uniting our community across the generations. The streets are usually filled with the standards of the Royal British Legion, the Air Training Corps, the Royal Navy Association and the youth organisations as they march to St Mary’s Parish Church for a service of thanksgiving and remembrance. There is a beauty to this shared expression of love united by the common story of our island history. But this year there was a peculiar stillness as we gathered in small numbers around our village war memorial outside the church. And yet we still gathered, united in our common purpose. In the stillness the birds sang, their anthem rose as though in praise as we stood in silence.

Families, communities and nations are bound together by their shared stories; stories of both joys and sorrows. Where these memories are embraced with open hearts they seed compassion, hope, empathy and a desire to work for the common good – something which our armed forces know intuitively. And our nation is once again united by the evolving story, the shared experience of Covid-19 and lockdown.

I hope that in this week of remembrance each of us will be able to find time this week to reflect, offering thanks and prayers for the courage of successive generations who have been called, and continue to be called, to defend the greater cause of justice and concord. A service of Remembrance will be led by The Royal British Legion in Storrington High Street this Wednesday 11th November at 11.00 o’clock.