As the 100th anniversary of the Armistice approaches, we are all remembering the dead of two world wars, but we should not forget that Remembrance Day commemorates lives lost in all wars: so I asked a recently serving soldier what the day means to him.
Michael Page served as a Warrant Officer Class 2, Battery Sergeant Major, Air Assault in the Royal Artillery before being medically discharged. It takes some pressing before he discloses the number of operations he has had on his leg (12) or that he has no fibula, no tibia nerve and no artery in that leg. It would be easier to amputate, but instead he has a metal frame through his leg. To hear him talk about it, you would think it was as mundane as going down the shops.
For him, Remembrance Day is “a time to reflect on all those conflicts. Our country has lost lives in conflict near and far, centuries to yesterday. For good or bad. It’s a time to reconcile and thank our elders for the lives we live and breath today. Without their courage, self sacrifice, and good old determination we could not live the British way today. It's also a time, for me personally, to reflect on my memories as a soldier, happy or sad. Knowing we can empathise on such a sombre day doesn't make me sad. It allows me to have a ‘condor moment’ and pass my thanks on to my brothers in arms for allowing me to walk the streets they once roamed. Trust me, at the going down of the sun with ‘The Last Post’ -who can't relate to a family member, friend, cousin, auntie, nephew, niece, sister, son or grandparent? It connects everyone.... With sadness and happiness. At 1100hrs with a tear running down my cheek I will remember them with a smile and you should too."
I met him at a 24 hour race at Spa in Belgium, where he was with the Mission Motorsport team (which helps to rehabilitate injured veterans back into civilian life). He produced the best bacon buttie I’ve ever had – in fact, he should open a café. Today, his focus is on the next operation, and finding employment to support himself and his family. So, without wishing to in any way diminish the colossal sacrifice made in two world wars, please also take time to remember those who served in Malaya, Korea, Cyprus, Aden, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf, the Balkans, Afghanistan… Lest we forget.