In silence

For two minutes, we stand in silence. For some, this is harder than for others. It only takes two minutes to acknowledge bravery and sacrifice. To show respect for those who made a choice that launched them into unknown chaos.

It would have been powerful to stand in silence for two minutes along with the 15,000 troops who participated on that first Remembrance Day. Everything stopped. People, buses, everything. To be a part of the moment when the attention of a nation focussed on acknowledgement,  gratitude and grief. To handle all that energy flowing through each person and onto the next. To feel that connection to something lighter and more profound than the next thing to be done. To pause amidst the day-to-day to say, albeit silently, "Thank You".

As a child, I remember stopping on Frederick Street in Edinburgh at 11 AM on November 11th. I was with my Mum. I remember my hand in hers. I remember looking around and seeing other men and women just stopping on the street and standing still. I can even remember when I got on a bus and was told by the bus conductor that we would be stopping for those two minutes.

What stands out the most, though, is that in the silence of people, I could still hear the roar of nature.

Fifty-plus years on, I still stop, even if I am not attending a formal ceremony. The chance to reconnect my soul and self to the deeper threads of humanity is important. This, too, we must not forget. Nor forget that silence is never empty, even though it isn't always heard.

November 11th is the one day in the year where I don't need a smart-watch reminding me to take a 'mindfulness' break. Those two minutes of silence are a part of the day and will probably be so for the rest of my life.

This year though, I think it is time not just to feel the energetic flow of gratitude; I can also consider what I have done with the freedoms so dearly bought by our Veterans. Have I done those freedoms harm or extended them as best I can to those around me? Do I take them for granted or hoard them like an entitlement?

This year, I shall search in the silence about the nature of my gratitude, and it may just be a little bit uncomfortable.

Joss Rowlands

Joss Rowlands

My grandfather died in World War I when my mother was only 6-months old.  They never met. His service records were lost in a fire, although he was mentioned in Dispatches. I am the only relative in our family line who can stand for his memory.
I am the CEO of an international group that supports leaders on foreign (and domestic) soil. The rest of the time, I'm a writer, coach, gardener, reader, knitter, grandmother, cat-mother, and the spouse of a Veteran.

North Shore Veterans’ Council Canada