Only Gibraltar would have two ceremonies to commemorate Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday.
The first was held at Parliament House at 11am.
I was surprised there were quite a few people gathered outside the building. Many of them were smartly dressed, a lot in dark colours, and with poppies.
There wasn’t much to see to be honest, and it took around ten minutes.
Fast forward to 12 noon and we had another ceremony at the British War Memorial.
And another two minute silence, marked by a huge gun blast to start and end with.
Perhaps it was to tie in with the 11am two minute silence in the UK.
There was a lot of music. Three verses of Abide with Me is far too much. I think there was Rock of Ages. There was also that ghastly Amazing Grace.
We had the Ode of Remembrance. There was the Lord’s Prayer. There was some religious blessing whereupon all the catholics standing next to me promptly and automatically crossed themselves. I didn’t.
I did wear black. Gibraltar is so small that you are likely to see someone you know. I saw a few people I knew, wearing jeans – and medals. I remember some years ago, at one Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, poor old Diana, Princess of Wales, was wearing something that wasn’t black, maybe it was jewellery or some other accessory. Apparently the queen pointed out that one didn’t do that. One wore black and only black.
For anyone who hasn’t yet read one of my favourite poems, here is Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
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