Vicar of Halifax Hilary Barber: They gave their lives for our freedom

Reverend canon Hilary Barber at Halifax minster, ready for Remembrance Sunday centenary.
Reverend canon Hilary Barber at Halifax minster, ready for Remembrance Sunday centenary.

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on Armistice Day and marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

Most people who served in the First World War died long ago. However, there are still many relatives of people who did serve, and who lost relatives and family.

My grandfather was a Petty Officer in the Navy, and my father will wear his father’s WW1 medals on Sunday, as a means of respect and love for him, and for all those who gave their lives for our freedom.

We must never forget that in war everyone suffers - Germany also lost thousands of lives, leaving widows and fatherless children.

To mark the end of WW1, we shall welcome a delegation from our twin German town of Aachen: civic leaders, church leaders and German soldiers will walk with members of the Yorkshire Regiment, The Duke’s Association and the Royal British Legion.

At the Cenotaph the Mayor of Calderdale will lay a wreath alongside the Mayor of Aachen, German soldiers will lay wreaths alongside British soldiers, and a German Bishop will preach in the Minster, where one can find the Chapel of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, where colours from the WW1 campaign and others hang, as a constant reminder of those who gave their lives.

There will a Book of Remembrance for people to sign, and an opportunity to place a candle on the altar, as we remember all those who gave their lives for our freedom, and those who serve our country today.

Europe came together after World War Two, promising to eradicate the hatred and oppression that led to such atrocities. This anniversary and the delegation from Aachen remind us we must never take this freedom for granted, and there will always be those who wish us harm and want to divide the European nations from a shared destiny of hope and a secure future in partnership together.

This year is the opportunity to recommit our lives to the cause of peace and good will, between all people and nations, and in these days of Brexit, especially across Europe.