Many years ago, I visited the war cemetery at Oosterbeck just outside of Arnhem in the Netherlands with a group of school children, I was amazed at how peaceful it was. It was certainly a well kept and cared for cemetery. I could not help but feel sadness as many graves were simply engraved…
“Soldier, Name unknown. Known to God.“
We came across one grave of a seventeen years old boy. One of the children said,…
“He was only seven years older than me!“
This year we commemorated the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, when 35,000 British, Polish and American parachute and glider troops dropped into the Netherlands in order to secure key bridges across the River Rhine. It was a daring but ultimately doomed attempt to shorten the war.
I read an article in one of the papers how Willemien Rieken has laid flowers for 75 years on the grave of Trooper William Edmand as he was one of those who had made the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedom. The article also told how Willemien, as a young girl, had been forced to hide in a small cellar underneath her father’s cake shop. The family was discovered by the Germans who interrogated them before setting them free. The family then found the bodies of four dead British soldiers in their garden.
Most of us have no personal experience of war. Certainly, when I was a young child no-one talked about war. I only learned about some of my father’s experiences after his death. Today, we are more aware of the consequences of war which actually happen before our eyes on television. We can easily condemn all wars. Some people would debate that they are justified. It does seem tragic that so many people, often very young, have made that ultimate sacrifice.
November is the month of Remembrance when we give thanks to all those who have died to protect us. In the bible we read how Jesus died making the sacrifice so our sins can be forgiven and to give us the hope of eternal life. St John’s Gospel states…
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.“
Indeed, God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
May the Peace of the Lord be always with you and your loved ones.