Every year, at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we pause for two minutes and remember all those who died in two world wars and subsequent conflicts. We stand still and in silence, a tradition which, one hopes, will always be respected. Over the last few days, having written about the nature of silence in those places which have witnessed appalling human suffering, I’ve been thinking more about this tradition of silence – not so as to question it (as I’ve said, it is a tradition which must always be recognised and respected) but rather its process; what we think about when we stop and are quiet; what it is we are doing when we remember?
The silence temporarily turns the street, the office or wherever it is we’re standing into a different place; it creates a contrast, against which we might compare our normal everyday environment – that from which we step for two minutes to then rejoin at its end. This act of rejoining is, I believe, as important as the stopping and the silence, for as simple as it is, it’s nevertheless something which millions were unable to do, whether through disability or simply because they never came home at all.