The Longest Day and its long shadow

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As we mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Bishop Martin of Chichester reflects at this time on the meaning of such great sacrifice for us in the present.

Commemoration of the D Day landings has had a greater impact on us that we might have expected.

The veterans who survived that astonishing bid to put a stop to Hitler are now few in number. But BBC’s The Unheard Tapes has allowed the voices of the dead to tell us what they endured and why.

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Voices that were anonymous have claimed back their personality. They were people like us. But unlike most of us, they left safety behind and advanced against the odds for the sake of a better future.

Soldiers storming Omaha Beach in Normandy, 6 June 1944.Soldiers storming Omaha Beach in Normandy, 6 June 1944.
Soldiers storming Omaha Beach in Normandy, 6 June 1944.

Two things stand out as I reflect on the human dimension of The Unheard Tapes. The first is the gap between the young voices of actors reading what D Day troops wrote, and the aged veterans.

This is a challenge to our culture in which being young is everything and old age is being past it. Youth has enormous power and is to be treasured. But let’s remember the youthful achievements of the elderly and honour them in old age.

The second thing is the quality of relationships between these men.

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We tend to sexualise all relationships. This can damage and limit our freedom. The virtues of loyalty, heroism, honour, and love reveal a quality of relationship forged in very particular circumstances which is like gold, and it defies sexual categorisation.

Perhaps there is something here for the rising generations to claim as they shape the future.

Dates for your diary

A Church Near You

Do take a look at this website for information about upcoming events and services in your locality.

Diocesan Environment Day

On Saturday, June 15, we are invited to St Mark's Church, Holbrook, near Horsham for a time exploring the Church's response to climate change. The day lasts from 9.30am until 4pm. Entrance is free. Do book using this Eventbrite link:

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