Gwynne column: Marking Remembrance differently

In his latest column for us, Denton MP Andrew Gwynne explains how he marked Remembrance this year and why it's always a moving time for him.

The coronavirus pandemic has stood in the way of many things over the past eight months or so; holidays, family celebrations, sports fixtures, even – sadly – funerals.

Both Easter and Bonfire Night were muted affairs this year, and we’re all hoping that we can safely celebrate Christmas with friends and family next month, even as we know that it will be far from a normal holiday.

Unfortunately, one of the many events affected this year is – for me – one of the most important; Remembrance. 

For me, this is a very moving time. It allows us to come together and give thanks to those who have served in our Armed Forces and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. 

It’s a solemn occasion, but also sometimes hopeful and inspirational, as we hear the stories of our veterans and can reflect on what we owe to them.

Every year, I am thankful of the many freedoms that we enjoy thanks to our Armed Forces over the decades.

Most years this means solemn ceremonies, parades and church services across Tameside. 

Unfortunately, as a result of Covid, this has been stripped back considerably this year to keep people – including our veterans – safe from this deadly virus.

I was, though, very proud to take part in a moving wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph in Denton’s Victoria Park on Remembrance Sunday, and have since paid my respects at the other memorials across my constituency.

It was also great to see that so many people took part in the two minutes silence from their doorsteps on Remembrance Sunday and all of the poppies displayed proudly from windows.

I think it’s also essential to remember that, whilst public and collective commemoration is a key part of Remembrance, just as important is our private reflections – that, after all, is what the silence is all about. 

Thankfully these private moments have been unaffected by the pandemic.

Next year, of course, I hope that we can once again stand together to remember and give thanks, and recent news on potential vaccines gives me a lot of hope that we can return to something like normality in time for the next Remembrance Day. Until that time, we can continue to commemorate the occasion at home – the important thing is to remember, lest we forget.

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