Oldham pays her respects…

Oldhamers paying respect

On the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Oldhamers showed their respects along with many others up and down the United Kingdom. This is of course ahead of Sunday’s more formal services throughout the Borough and at Oldham’s stunning War Memorial.

We always hold a two minutes silence in the shop which people have always been welcome to join but today I walked up to the War Memorial where a simple but moving ritual of respect was being presided over by the gentleman on the right of the photograph opposite.

It was great to talk to these two ex servicemen who were wearing their medals with pride – it turned out that the gentleman on the left had bought a pair of Dolomite walking boots from our shop in 1976 when it was owned by Paul Braithwaite the climber and they were still in working order!

Proud ex servicemen

I couldn’t help wondering how many people walk straight past the stunning statue and wall of remembrance without pausing to contemplate the meaning of the sacrifice made by hundreds if not thousands from the Borough over the years.

One thing it brought home is that despite bad news bombarding us from all sides on matters of the economy, most of us have much to be grateful for. There’s a habit of people to look back and comment how good things were years ago but having recently taken a trip to the D Day beaches and seen some of the signs of the occupation in France, I think differently. The situation over there could so easily have been a permanent one and might well have been duplicated in Britain.

Now, even though the world is largely at peace, we still owe a great debt to our servicemen and women who risk life on a daily basis. The places they serve in may be far flung but they are still making massive sacrifices to preserve our way of life and our freedom of speech.

Whatever else we complain about, most people in our country get chance to get to do a fair bit of what they want, when they want without dire consequences.

Lest we forget…

The disappointment today is that so few fully appreciate the fate we were saved from seventy years ago. Now, whoever we are, whatever colour our skin, we should be thanking our lucky stars that we get so much freedom to say and do what we want. Blood was, and still is being shed to preserve that basic right and it shouldn’t be abused under any circumstances.

Being in town at eleven today focused my attention on the decency of the people observing a simple but poignant tradition and made me proud of the town where I work and spend much of my time…