It’s been a week of much contemplation. 100 years since the cease fire of WW1, 11th November 1918. Sunday’s vigil at East Kilbride’s War Memorial was a solemn occasion, followed by a moving and respectful service at East Kilbride Old Kirk. Reverend Anne Paton bade us think of those who never came home to East Kilbride, those lads and men who left the Village, left their families and friends and marched to war never to return. Each Order of Service leaflet had the name of one of these soldiers printed on it, and as Reverend Paton said, these were not soldiers unknown, buried on a foreign field – they were fathers, sons, brothers and uncles, known to those who loved and cared for them. Despite the “War to end all Wars” this still happens today; heartbreaking.
We say “lest we forget” and “we shall remember them”. And we must. Not just the individuals but the events that caused and still cause soldiers, sailors, air personnel and civilians to die, to be maimed, to have their lives changed forever. Our history is important, knowing about it, increasing understanding and learning we are not doomed to repeat past mistakes, keeping watch.
On the theme of understanding the past, the screening of the Bafta Award winning film ‘Nae Pasaran!’ at our Parliament last week was marvellous. What an honour it was for me to host this event and introduce the Director, Felipe Bustos Sierra to Parliamentary colleagues and friends. None of our four Rolls Royce heroes were able to attend – all exhausted no doubt by the phenomenal success of the film with it receiving such accolades and being shown all over Scotland!
Felipe, raised in Belgium because his family were exiles from the Chilean regime, told us of his motivation to make this film. He had heard the story of the Rolls Royce workers who refused to service and repair Pinochet’s jet engines and wanted to learn more, to understand what happened, and tell that story in Scotland and in Chile.
Here in Scotland, watching the film we learn about international worker solidarity and how a few good people, standing for what’s right and refusing to be silent, can make change – small deeds with big effects. We watch with pride as Bob, Robert, John and Stuart tell their part of the story and hear the Chilean side.
What about watching the film in Chile? Felipe told us that prior to the fall of the Dictator Pinochet, loads of records were destroyed, that the history of that time is not much spoken of, the past buried. He wants people to remember; not to allow themselves to forget; to come to terms with the past, keeping watch. I wish him well in taking his film back to his native land, to show the result of his years of research in Chile and Scotland.
Our young people in East Kilbride have certainly learned a lot this WW1 Centenary Year. At the Memorial on Sunday, all the Cadets – Naval, Army and Air – and our Youth organisations behaved impeccably and with such respect for proceedings. They certainly knew what we were remembering and how important it is not to forget.
It was likewise at Calderglen High School’s Memorial event on Friday past. A moving and strangely enjoyable morning, at the school’s own War Memorial and in their Library afterwards when we guests were able to view the projects of the past year and listen to song and poetry of Remembrance. So well done.
Mr Ian Forsyth, WW2 veteran, held us spellbound with his reminiscences of his war. He spoke of the need to remember that people across the world were generally just like us, and wanted no more than to live in peace. He spoke of the grave in Normandy of a young man from East Kilbride – 16 years old. He asked the Calderglen pupils to remember that young man. He spoke of his hope that the young generations of today would strive for peace, and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
We should mark momentous occasions of our past – “lest we forget”.