On Saturday, we wanted to do something together and Steph said she wanted to see some trees - so I suggested the National Memorial Arboretum. It isn't too far from here, and I had heard it was worth a visit. The website said 'free entry' and that it was open - so after lunch, off we went.
It was really very interesting - some memorials were particularly moving. Unfortunately it was bitterly cold- and rather exposed, as most of the trees are still in the early stages of growth and do not exactly provide shelter. Bob and Steph took lots of pictures
At various points, there were references to the verse from the book of Revelation
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
Me, walking past the Berlin Airlift Memorial
These two statues are opposite each other, on the big walls inscribed with names of all those who have died in the armed forces since the end of WW2.
Sadly, they have left a huge blank area of wall for more inscriptions.One of the most recent names is that of Christopher Dunsmore- the local lad we remember each November 11th at our village war memorial service.
The man below is opening a door in the wall. Liz tells me that it was a Victorian custom to put a door in a memorial when it was someone who had 'died before their time' On the other side of the wall, along the crack, it explains that on the 11th day of the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight will shine through the crack.
It was very cold and blustery
Here is the ATS memorial. Her uniform jacket appears to be buttoned the "man's" way.Must check this out!
The wonderful little train did not seem to be running
This beautiful sculpture in the Chapel was made by members of the British Woodcarvers Association and is called "The Storyteller" - about 7 sculptors worked one day a week for 10 months to produce this, and other items in the Chapel.
On the altar were some memorial cards - a few from children, whose fathers had died during the past 5 years, and outside by many of the memorials there were fresh wreaths. It was clear that many families make this a place of pilgrimage especially at Christmas-time.
The website says
The Memorial was constructed to provide recognition of the men and women of our Armed and Merchant Services who have lost their lives in conflict as a result of terrorist action or on training exercises since the end of the Second World War. Unlike the World War memorials in towns and villages across the nations, there is nowhere that records the names of those who have been killed on duty since 1945...
During this period the men and women of the Armed and Merchant Services have taken part in more than 50 operations and conflicts across the world, often as part of United Nations, NATO or other international coalitions. These actions have ranged from hot war to peacekeeping; from humanitarian assistance to fighting terrorism; from the jungles of Malaysia to the storms of the South Atlantic; from the streets of Aden to the streets of Northern Ireland.
It is not just Service men and women who have made sacrifices. Behind every name on the Memorial there are the wives, husbands, partners, parents, children and colleagues who loved them and who live with the pain and consequences of their loss every day.
I kept thinking of the carol we had been singing just a few days earlier
"Oh hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing"
I was glad we went - and conscious that we were there as a family - so many who visit must be acutely aware of the one they are missing.