November 11th has been an important date in my life since I was a small child, proudly wearing my red poppy and marching up and down the streets of Wigan in my Brownie uniform with a brass band playing and carefully turning my “eyes left” at the correct time. War, I believe, brings great tragedy, pain and loss – it’s not something I believe in as a cure to the world’s ills. However, I am grateful for the men and women who have protected my country and so my future on foreign fields in World Wars 1 and 2 which we remember today among others.
While it was men who fought and died on the battlefield, war also brought a small part in the death of an old life for women and the birth of a new one. Because most of the male population, at least the able bodied ones, were sent abroad to defend their country and families, women were set free – no, forced – to rise up and show what they could do: work like a man, wear trousers, get their hands dirty outside of the kitchen, earn their own money, in turn gain independence with their pursestrings and life, stay out late, take charge. In essence, a liberation and the start of becoming what women could be independent of their children, aprons and husbands.
Watching the frail old (for the most part) male veterans marching to the tune of lost friends and comrades, the horror and injury both clear memories and current pain, my remembrance and thankfulness also turns to the women who stood up and fought at home, carrying on while dreading or mourning the loss of their husbands, sons, brothers and lovers.
We will remember.