Garden of Remembrance, St Paul's Cathedral
Monday 5th November 2018
Remembrance has its origins in the First World War. The losses in that war were so great that the focus of commemoration became the fallen. It gave rise to the Act of Remembrance, the Cenotaph, the Unknown Soldier, Armistice Day and the Two Minute Silence. It also gave rise to the poppy as a universal symbol of Remembrance and hope for peace for which The Royal British Legion is its champion 'lest we forget'. The work of the RBL continues to this day and it honours not just the sacrifices of the First World War but those of any forces under British command since 1914. It also honours civilian services that have supported the Armed Forces in times of conflict as well as the service of Armed Forces, veterans and their families in times of peace.
Each year, on the Monday preceding Armistice Day, there is a service to mark the opening of the annual Garden of Remembrance at St Paul's Cathedral. Conducted by the Dean of St Paul's, the service is attended by the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs, the Chapter of St Paul's, Masters and Clerks of the Livery Companies and senior representatives of City institutions amongst others. There are standard bearers of the RBL, a ceremonial squad of the London Ambulance Service and choirs from the two City of London Schools. Music is played by the Coldstream Guards.
The solemn service includes an address by the Lord Mayor, time honoured hymns and traditional Exhortation before The Last Post and a Two Minute Silence. There then follows the planting of crosses lead by the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, Aldermen and the Dean of St Paul's. Further crosses are planted by representatives of the other organisations including the Livery Companies before the service concludes with the Dedication, God Save the Queen and the final Blessing.
The experience was moving. Many families have suffered loss in, or as a result of, the First World War and the many conflicts since. This significant service organised by the RBL in the peaceful setting of the garden at St Paul's was particularly poignant and it served as a reminder that the peace and freedoms we enjoy today came at a heavy cost.