Posted by Richard Perry on Jan 30, 2019
                         LEST WE FORGET.
A highlight of our recent European tour was a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
There, in expansive parklike surroundings dotted with groves of trees, are set over 350 memorials to British, Commonwealth, and Polish forces and emergency civilian organisations. It’s a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, and recognises service and sacrifice, during a long history of conflict, including the 17,000 killed on active service since the end of World War II.
There are monuments raised to railwaymen and circus entertainers who left their jobs to fight, and to the 55,000 prisoners who died in the Far East. Each regiment has its place, and even some military school academies. There are also monuments to police and paramedics who have died in the performance of their duties.
A past mistake is recognised, in one of the most moving pieces, the “Shot at Dawn” memorial: 309 tall poles represent the stakes to which each WWI soldier executed “for cowardice” or “desertion” were tied when shot. The surrounding trees are set so that sunlight falls on the statue of a 17 year old victim.
There is a rope outline map of the world including New Zealand, set in the grass, into which visitors can plant a little flag inscribed with their personal reflections.
The main monument raised on a little hill has sculptures reflecting both the glory of the fighters and the tragedy of war. A slit break in the surrounding wall is set so that a shaft of sunlight will always fall upon the scene of the fallen at 11am on the 11th of November, each year.
A place to be humbled by the huge sacrifice people have made over many years for their countries and to preserve freedom; and which firmly reminds us, that we should never forget.