At the elevent hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we
remember the brave and the fallen.
What does it mean to be brave?
My Grandmother was a midwife in England during the blitz and she is
renowned throughout her small town for dilivering babies whith bombs
falling around her. She was honoured after the war for her work, by
naming a street after her. Co-incidentally I was born in that street.
But there were no honours or medals for my Grandfather. This man was a
coal miner. Today mining is a dangerous business but when he was going
down the pit it was much more so. But every day he did it, it was his
job. A reserved occupation, miners could not be called up or even
volunteer - they were needed where they were.
Twice he came up to find his house destroyed by German bombs. The last
time Grandma was still in the wrecked house, buried alive. He found my
mother frantically digging at the rubble with her bare hands trying to
Still he kept going down, not knowing whether he would be eating dinner
with his family that night or burying them. Or even if he would have a
bed to sleep in that night.
That to me is bravery.
Grandma was brave as well. One day a German bomber was in dire trouble.
It was burning and rapidly losing height. The crew didn't want to crash
with a full load of bombs aboard so they released them. As the plane
descended it was flying parallel to their street. And each of the bombs
struck a house. The aircraft crashed at the end of the street and all
of the locals rushed to the wreck. Many houses were destroyed and some
villagers were injured. Grandma ran to the wreck where the villagers
had dragged out the dazed and injured crew. They were going to lynch
them. And who could blame them?
Grandma all five foot nothing of her, forced her way to the front of
the angry mob and turned to face them. "Leave them alone!" she shouted.
"I need some room to treat their wounds."
"But nurse!" One said "Look what they've done to your house" pointing
at a mess of broken walls and roof tiles.
"I'ts no worse than what my boys are doing over there!"
And with that the crowd left her to her work and the police came to
take the crew away.
I often wonder if the crew knew she saved their lives that day.
Lest we forget.