Remembrance Sunday is always a sobering experience for anyone with shred of humanity. I have just returned from our remembrance service which as I expected was a very moving and life affirming experience.
Our service takes place every year at the Pots and Pans memorial which can be seen from almost every part of Saddleworth and stands majestic against the skyline which is made up of some very large hills.
Now the older I get the more of a challenge it becomes but the feeling of peace when you put some altitude between yourself and the busy world we live in the more you can think about the magnitude of sacrifice that was made on our behalf.
According to the internet (so it must be right) The memorial is situated 427m or about 1,500 feet above sea level and the views are remarkable. So now the bad news, even if you get to within walking distance which is about a half mile walk you find the path rises about 800ft which makes it tough walking for a feeble specimen such as myself.
At one point this morning whilst gasping for breath whilst stood pretending to take photographs, I did think for a moment I might not make it. But a friend a few years ago gave me some great advice about walking uphill, so I thought I would share it.
Take small steps, take Sixty steps then rest for Sixty-seconds and carry on until the reach the top. It works for me, I started this when the going got tough but by the time I was half way up I needed less and less rest and I arrived in a state ready to take part in the service rather than leaning against the rocks gasping for breath.
Just as I arrived at the top the band struck up with the first hymn, one of my favourites that I remember from School, Onward Christian Soldiers. I did try to join in but the lump in my throat made it very difficult.
As the service progressed through to the two minute silence I was amazed at how quiet it was, even with so many people present all you could hear was the wind. It is a strange feeling being stood with so many people and it being so quiet.
I always think that two minutes hardly seems enough to show the respect that these poor young men deserve for the ultimate sacrifice they made.
I have been lucky enough in my lifetime not to have had to go to war, but for these brave souls it was not by choice, many volunteered but some were enlisted which is even more remarkable.
As well as the walking up hill lesson I learned something else over the years. Once you reach your journeys end it is not over. As Tolkien said in The Lord of the Rings, A journey is there and back again.
History is littered with people who arrived but weren’t lucky enough to make it back, just think of Scott of the Antarctic, a lesson to heed if ever there was one.
This morning was no different, going down hill for me is a far more scary prospect. At my age I have found I don’t bounce like I once did. So with that fear at the back of my mind and with more than a little apprehension I made my way down without breaking any bones whatsoevever. Which on that hill is no mean achievement I can tell you.
So after my annual adventure over the moors to pay my respects all that remains to do is head of home to a brew and a spot of lunch and count my blessings and hope that all the brave dedicated people in our armed forces manage to stay safe in this ever more dangerous world we live in.