They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Each year in November we pay tribute to those who died for our future and freedom. We honour their short lives that they so courageously gave up so that we can live. Last year we witnessed an incredibly moving and breathtaking sight of almost 900 000 ceramic poppies installed by the Tower of London, and which commemorated the hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. I visited the sight several times to pay my respect and to try to capture this unforgettable scene. You can read more about it on my Blood Swept Land and Seas of Red blog.
Most of all though I wanted to capture a special memory for my partner’s Mum. Her uncle was killed in the First World War, and his name was read from the Roll of Honour at one of the evening ceremonies outside the Tower. We thought that one of the ceramic poppies and a picture on the wall would make a nice present for her. I imagined the blood red sky which would emphasise the poignancy of the seas of red poppies surrounding the moat. However every sunrise I witnessed was far from that. Until the last day, Armistice Day. My partner and I decided to get up at 4 o’clock again to pay our respect on this special day for the last time that year. I didn’t intend to take any more photographs, though I did pack the camera and the tripod just in case. We arrived in the darkness and stood in silence watching the dawn sky turn from midnight blue to purple and pink, and a few minutes later the whole scene turned into an unimaginable spectacle. I could hardly hold back the tears.
Needless to say, Martin’s Mum was overwhelmed by her present, and the picture found its special place in their new home.
For me the picture is a gentle reminder of the poignant moment of the Armistice Dawn 2014, but also of those whom we owe our own existence to. So here it is to those who will not grow old so that we can have our freedom to live our lives, so that we can grow old alongside those whom we love. The least we can do is to use our precious time here as best as we can, and to remember those brave men and women and their ultimate sacrifice. Perhaps not just on this day, but every day…