julesjones: remembrance poppy (remembrance)
[personal profile] julesjones
Today is the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme; a wound that still gapes raw in the psyche of the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth, even though it is a hundred years and the last survivor has gone. There have been commemorations across the country and beyond.

I went to watch the lunchtime parade from the Cenotaph to Manchester Cathedral. The crowd was relatively thin where I was, so I was right at the front leaning on the fencing. A regimental brass band is *very* loud when it's passing three feet in front of you... The parade included descendents, veterans of later wars, and a group of Chelsea Pensioners in ceremonial uniform.

And then on the way home after work I had two encounters with the #WeAreHere ghost soldiers. A group of them were singing on the steps outside Marks and Spencers as I walked up St Mary's Gate towards the bus station. I stopped and watched until they finished, shouldered arms, and marched away down New Cathedral Street. I went on my way, and as I walked up Market Street towards the bus station another section marched past. Ghosts of the past, brought to life for this one day. By then people knew about them, but it was still an eerie and deeply moving experience, and I'm not surprised that my colleagues who encountered them at the railway stations early this morning found it very emotional.

Lest we forget.
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