As we approach Remembrance Day 2020, entrenched in our worldwide battle with COVID-19, it seems more than appropriate that we should stop, take a deep breath and try to imagine what it was like for all the heroic men and women who, over many years, have taken on the enemy to fight for their country.
People like to say we are fighting a war now—an invisible enemy—and in some ways we are. But to defeat this enemy we have options.
We can do as we’re advised to do, which is stay home as much as possible, wear face masks, keep two metres apart and wash our hands regularly, dependant on the rules that apply where we live. Or we can ignore all the advice, hoping the pandemic will magically disappear, but in doing so assist the virus on its course to infect as many people as possible.
Whichever route we choose, we know that we have a choice. But in World Wars I & II—and subsequent wars around the world—there was no choice.
Armies of young men and women put themselves on the front line to protect the freedoms that we have today.
Some, as young as 14 years old, lied about their age to ‘join up’ and fought for their country on land, at sea and in the air. Most had only a few weeks training in an aeroplane, on board a ship or in the use of guns and weaponry to fight the many land battles they would encounter.
They fought in atrocious conditions, sometimes marching for days in wet clothing with little to eat—and always brutally deprived of sleep.
Millions lost their lives on the battlefields, at sea and in the air. Many thousands suffered horrific life-changing injuries, and hundreds of thousands spent most of the war years as Prisoners of War. Three-and-a-half to four years incarcerated at the hands of their captors, never knowing whether each day would be their last.
Their experiences so horrific, most who survived chose never to talk about it.
The reality of surviving war is that the damage is life-long. And, as we’ve discovered in recent years, many struggle to return to a ‘normal’ life.
There has been much discussion around the affects of COVID-19 on people’s mental health—and for good reason; the restrictions being put upon us are causing anxiety, stress and loneliness, especially for those who live alone or in difficult circumstances.
And there are severe financial pressures on thousands whose businesses are in jeopardy, putting their employees’ livelihoods at risk.
But we have to put things into perspective. Looking to the future we know there is likely to be a vaccine within the next 12 months.
And, even if there isn’t, we may just have to soldier forward accepting that, sadly, there will be casualties along the way, because financially the world cannot sustain a prolonged period of economic inaction in the long term.
In COVID-19 we only have one enemy and the world is fighting it together. We now know much more about how it works, and that with the right strategies it can be managed.
Historically, no wars have been fought with such an advantage.
On Sunday November 8th, no matter how you might be feeling on that day, please spare two minutes to remember all of those who gave their lives fighting for their country—and for those who survived but carried the scars with them for the rest of their lives.
It’s so little to ask of you, to honour what was such a huge sacrifice by them.
“LEST WE FORGET”
’Til next time,