Last week I was standing on the cliffs in Normandy overlooking the memorial to the Royal Marine Commandos who liberated Port-en-Bessin on June 6th 1944.
Despite the shenanigans over the Brexit vote I was reminded of the unique bond that those people on the north coast of Normandy have with us – witnessed by the lines of British, American, Canadian and French flags on the seafronts of the towns as we made our way back to Caen and the ferry home.
The massive sacrifice made to liberate Europe is even more poignant at this time of year as we approach Remembrance Sunday. I suppose being a post-war kid, born in the 1950’s, the end of the Second World War was only a decade prior, and my parents were very aware of the threat to peace and the vigilance needed to preserve peace. Today, we risk slumber into complacency and whatever the outcome of Brexit relationships with our European and Western partners are vital to the security of Europe and the world.
Next year we will be celebrating the liberation of Europe on Friday 8th May, 2020 with a VE Day Celebration at the Parish Church. Like the recent Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations back in 2012, this will be a parish-wide celebration and not just for its church members, but for all the communities of Canford, Merley, and Bearwood and beyond. This is planned to be a joyful occasion but there will also be the opportunity to remember the sacrifice made by our forebears, including those, like my mother, still living. Do get involved, volunteer to help on the day (speak to Lisa Smith, who is our coordinator for this event) and encourage your friends and neighbours to join in.
The memorial to the Marines in France carries the words, “Freedom is not free” and that is not only true for the liberation of the people of Europe 75 years ago, but is true for us today. And lets not forget that the ultimate sacrifice was made by Jesus on the cross, 2000 years ago. That cost him his life too. But through his sacrifice, we are free. Halleluiah!
Be blessed in your freedom!