It is a long time since I have been as totally disgusted as I was at 11am today, November 11, as I stood with almost certainly the biggest attendance of people in recent years, at the town’s War Memorial in Euston Place to honour those from this town who gave their lives in two World Wars and in other conflicts since, and to remember our own relatives and friends who died or were injured. It was of course Armistice Day, the day and time in the year on which we stop for just two minutes to pay our respects to the fallen.
My disgust stemmed from the fact that the cenotaph had been totally ignored by the town council and there was not a single councillor from town or district present, nothing had been arranged, the town hall clock did not strike at 11 0’clock to signal the start of the two minutes silence, there was not a bugler in attendance to sound the Last Post and in consequence no wreath was laid on behalf of the townspeople. Most present were absolutely bemused and had it not been for the attendance of a lone standard bearer from the Royal Naval Association you would be unable to have distinguished it from any other day of the year.
I was subsequently able to establish that all councillors had gone to the unveiling of a new memorial in the Jephson Gardens at an event which had been organised by the local branch of the Royal British Legion. I find it appalling and extremely insensitive that such a time should have been chosen when we already have an existing monument to recognise those from the town who died. We must surely be one of the few towns in the country where our town memorial was ignored today by its elected representatives. Whatever form the new memorial takes there could surely have been a more appropriate time for it to have been unveiled to avoid such a clash.
Would it not have been possible for just one of our town or district councillors to have had the strength of character to attend the existing cenotaph, and for a very simple ceremony to have been organised. I will be interested to know what will happen in future years as we now apparently have two memorials?
I hope that someone may be able to answer these questions and at the same time will apologise to the relatives of those whose names are recorded and who have been so shabbily treated on Armistice Day 2014.
Richard Ashley, Hall Road, Leamington