Remembering the living

"AT the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them..." Lawrence Binyon's words will echo again across countless war memorials throughout the land this weekend.

Friday, 10th November 2006, 7:55 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 9:36 pm

Collectively, we do remember. But how effective and how practical is that remembrance?

It has taken a hard-hitting campaign by a national newspaper to goad the Government into prodding the faceless people determining National Lottery policy into investing some of the colossal sum they have sitting idle into a national memorial to more than 16,000 Britons who have died in their country's service since World War II.

At long last, a shameful omission will be put right.

Memorials have their proper place. They honour those who gave their lives. They also serve as a visible reminder to those who enjoy the peace won for us at so dreadful a price what a debt we owe.

But the true extent of a nation's gratitude is not expressed in granite but in care.

As long as there is a disabled ex-serviceman or woman requiring help or a widow needing support their needs must be paramount.

Two poignant Observer stories this week bring home the true meaning of sacrifice.

That they belong to separate eras and totally different sets of circumstances only serves to emphasise the point.

Some poor soul had to be the first Bexhillian to lose his life on active service in World War II. That distinction fell to Pilot Officer Gordon Arscott. The distinguished Grammar School scholar lost his life 1940 when an ill-prepared nation was forced to sacrifice valiant young men in an unequal struggle with a well-equipped and brutally efficient enemy.

Ex-Chief Petty Officer Nigel Whiteley belongs to a different generation. But his story and that of his colleagues at St Dunstan's filled members of Bexhill Gardens and Allotments Society with a mixture of admiration and pride.

Nigel lost first the sight of one eye and then the other as a result of post-war service overseas. The indomitable spirit shown by this Gold Medallist disabled archer and his chums touches the heart.

At Poppy Appeal time, the memory of Gordon Arscott and the example of Nigel Whiteley ought also to touch the wallet.