The Vicar's message for D-Day

On June 6th at 5.30pm Knutsford remembered the sacrifice of our service people, and particularly those who took part in the D-Day invasion at the Centennial Memorial. The Knutsford Town Mayor, Cllr. Andrew Malloy opened with his thoughts and closed proceedings with thanks. Wreaths were laid, and there was the two-minute silence preceded by the Kohima Epitaph and the Last Post. It concluded with the Reveille. Paul, the Vicar, and the Knutsford Mayor's Chaplain for 2019 - 2020, gave a reflection to those who had gathered for this important occasion.

 

Jesus said ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Jesus was preparing his disciples, his friends, for his imminent departure to offer his own life for the healing of the world. On that same evening, he gave a simple meal, and shared bread and wine, symbolic of his body broken on the cross, his blood shed in love for all of us. As he shared the bread and wine he said ‘do this in remembrance of me’ until the kingdom comes in all its fullness.

An act of remembrance to help us to remember his sacrifice, and so too in the laying of wreaths. The memorial stone is here for the town of Knutsford to help us, and those who follow on from us, that we will always remember, especially as time goes on and the veterans of various conflicts depart these earthly shores.

The scale of the D-Day operation was huge in number and the people who went as part of that task knew the possibilities that lay ahead. The possibility they would have to sacrifice their own life, or be seriously injured – but the possibility, and ultimate necessity, regrettable as it was, in order to bring peace and freedom. The laying of wreaths allows us to pay our respects, to give our thanks to these people, our own service men and women, and people of all nations, who gave their lives in love and service, that we might enjoy freedom and peace. The wreaths a reminder of the cost of war and for us to heed Christ’s commandment that we love one another, as he loves us. That call to love, and peace extends to all humanity. 

Operation Neptune, or the D-Day landings as we now know it, had a profound impact on those who took part and for some that turned to poetry, to express their feelings and play a part in their own emotional healing process. Yesterday in Portsmouth, a simple but very poignant poem was read – written by D-Day signalman Cyril Crain who died in 2014.

Come and stand in memory

Of men who fought and died

They gave their lives in Normandy

Remember them with pride.

 

Soldiers, Airman, sailors

Airborne and marines

Who in civvy life were tailors

and men who worked machines.

 

British and Canadian

And men from USA

Forces from the Commonwealth

They all were there that day.

 

To Juno, Sword and Utah

Beaches of renown

Also Gold and Omaha

That’s where the ramps went down.

 

The battle raged in Normandy

Many lives were lost

The war must end in victory

And this must be the cost.

 

When my life is over

And I reach the other side

I’ll meet my friends from Normandy

And shake their hands with pride.     Cyril Crain

 

Cyril had a hope of a future beyond the suffering he had seen – a peaceful future here – and an eternal one too.

When my life is over, and I reach the other side

Perhaps he too, understood that the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary to reveal his victory, and to bring a change for the better. 

It is why I chose the wreath from the churches of Knutsford to be in the shape of the cross to remind us of what God in Christ has done for you and me, for Cyril Crain and all those who died on the shores of France and other conflicts. The flowers, white and yellow, symbolic of new life out of death. And that one day, there will be peace on earth as it is in heaven.

In the meantime, we give thanks, and strive to make the world an even better place, heeding God’s call to love one another as he loves us.

Amen.

 

 

 

 


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