With today’s coverage of the two minute silence and the Poppy Appeal, my mind has been returning to the many programmes I have worked on which marked the anniversaries of battles and wars.
The start of World War One, The Somme, the end of World War One, D Day, the end of World War Two, the Falklands and Trafalgar: working in the BBC’s Events Department, which produces the coverage of major national events, it was inevitable the rhythm of our year was dictated by these commemorations and regular state events such as Trooping the Colour.
November is always a special time of year as it brings the Festival of Remembrance and the Cenotaph programmes.
This latter is particularly special to me. While making the short films which are shown before the main service and the marchpast, I have interviewed many people who take part in the simple service and marchpast, both veterans of conflict and wives and children of those who have died at war.
For all of them, taking part in the Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall is an important tribute to those who have fallen, evoking particular and often painful memories.
Interviewing them was always an inspiration and privilege. Among them were the three World War One veterans, Harry Patch, Bill Stone and Henry Allingham, whose final passing last year was marked by last year’s Armistice Day Service at Westminster Abbey.
I can truly say that at times I have been stunned into silence by their experiences, and sometimes moved to tears.
For the first time in six years I am unable to work on this important programme. But I know my friends and colleagues will be doing everything they can to honour those at the Cenotaph on Sunday and pay tribute to those that are remembered. Particularly while the veterans take part in what for many of them is the most important part of the day, the marchpast, their opportunity to pay their own respects and tribute to their fallen comrades.