Why observe Remembrance Sunday in addition to Remembrance – or, Armistice – Day? Why hold two minutes of silence, and then do it again on another occasion, shortly afterward?
The decision to shift the act of remembrance to the nearest Sunday was made in 1939, in order that the production of munitions was not interrupted in the build-up to WWII, and stuck post-war. But in recent years we’ve taken to marking both days – though without any real reason. In the most recent years there has been another trend, a sprawling unofficial remembrance from (at least) the start of November onwards...
It is a case of doing something without knowing why – and with the incredible irony that the multiplication of days of remembrance arises directly from the accommodation of the multiplication of arms.
However, our largely unquestioned current practice is not untouchable: as it has been changed in the past, there is no case for not changing it again.
If, as a society, we really want to honour those who fell in conflict, and take time to appreciate the freedom they have won for us, I would propose that we campaign to make Armistice Day an official public holiday. A public holiday on which there were acts of remembrance hosted in both civic spaces and places of worship, at which people could gather.
This in turn would liberate Remembrance Sunday to become Reconciliation Sunday, an occasion to give thanks for those many instances where we can acknowledge that former enemies have become friends, have found ways to live and work together; and to pray that we might see reconciliation in those places around the world where enemies are at war today.
The views I express on my blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of the local church where I serve at present, or the wider Church of England.