From Salvationist 10 November 2018
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN AND WHAT MIGHT BE
THIS week Salvationist focuses mainly on the past as we mark the armistice that ended the First World War, signed ‘on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ one hundred years ago.
As each year goes by, fewer people remain who remember that war, but the photo and film images that exist help to keep the thought of it alive for millions more of us.
Most of our feature articles this week include black and white images from more than a century ago. That’s how we’ve been accustomed to seeing the First World War. But a new documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, helps us see it differently. The Imperial War Museum asked film director Peter Jackson to do something with their archive footage. So, using modern technology, the speed was standardised, the images sharpened and the black and white film colourised. Then, lip-readers discovered what the soldiers were saying to each other and the dialogue was lip-synched into the film, with the correct regional accents.
The original footage made the war seem distant and disconnected from us, but the new film brings it home. The young men chatting in the trenches could be a son, brother or the boy next door, which makes their loss and our remembrance all the more moving and poignant.
The feature on pages 10 and 11 reminds us that many civilians were also affected by the First World War – they were bereaved, injured, made homeless or became refugees. It mentions a Salvation Army officer, Adjutant William Avery, who was the first British civilian casualty of the war, leaving a wife and five children. Four of those children went on to become officers, one of whom, with her husband, was a pioneer officer in China.
On page 8 Major Paul Robinson highlights an incident in the Second World War when a Salvationist couple and their six children were rescued from their bombed-out home. Those children, and their children – who include Paul himself – were able to ‘serve the Lord with thanksgiving through the years’.
Those two incidents made me wonder about the millions of soldiers and civilians who have died in wars. What might they have gone on to do? When we consider the good done by those who did survive, how much more would have been done by those who didn’t? And that’s not just the bright and capable ones, but all those who might have made a positive difference through their day-to-day lives.
You might point out that not all of those who survived went on to do good, and not all of those who died may have done so either. But when we think of their willingness to serve and to sacrifice, it’s likely that the world would have been a better place with them and with their contribution to it.
Though distant and disconnected from us, perhaps those who gave their lives can still make a difference, if we take some inspiration from them. On this Remembrance Sunday – this centenary of the armistice – let’s not just remember their loss and what might have been. Let’s also think of their example – as well as the greatest example of sacrifice, Jesus – and consider what might be; then commit to making it happen.
From the Editor,
LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
Check out our Article of the Week here.
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