On Friday I was privileged to be at the armistice day service at the National Memorial Arboretum. Wow, what a day!
We knew it was going to be busy, and it had been a good idea to arrive early before the queues started. I managed a quiet trek around some of the places that we’d enjoyed so much on our first trip earlier this year, before finding a sheltered spot near the huge TV screen where the service was being relayed from the Armed Forces Memorial
We started off with a musical welcome from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Collingwood. [ all suitably dressed for the distinctly cool November day] I couldn’t see them during the actual service, except on the screen, but did manage a crafty peek at the last minute warm up.The service was beautifully done, and extremely moving. After the VIP wreath laying, and the end of the service, there was the opportunity for organisations and individuals to lay their wreaths.
There was a bit of a lull after the service before the March past due at noon, and I opted to get a quick look at the Merchant Navy Memorials which were close to where the parade would be setting off. That was another good move because it meant I got a preview of the music of the Leicestershire and Rutland County, The Royal British Legion Pipe Band. Another treat – the band comprised a great age range; from the experienced mature members through to wonderfully enthusiatic junior members.
The march past brought more emotional moments, as the pipe band led veterans old and young past Sir James Hawley KCVO TD JP and his entourage. Not so many service people as would have been seen at the cenotaph on Sunday, but every bit as meaningful for every one of them. There’s so much to see at the NMA – far too much for one blog post[indeed, too much to see all in one day. More later this week about some of the other sights on armistice day.