Sunday, March 4, 2012

Horse Memorial

I will be making a special visit tomorrow but I am not sure what to take with me to show my gratitude  -  a big bunch of flowers or a bale of hay. I am going to the horse memorial and my trip is prompted by the film 'War Horse' that I watched on Friday evening. The film itself is a syrupy tale of the relationship between a young Devon lad and his horse - think Lassie but with horses. Steven Spielberg's sentimentality is perhaps a product of aging, but the film for me had a deeper message, it shows the horror of war and the sacrifice that a country made in order to fight for freedom - my freedom - and yours and defenceless horses were part of that fight!
Several years ago I visited Edinburgh Castle and was astonished to see a photograph of our PE Horse Memorial in one of the rooms. I didn't realise that it is one of the very few memorials to horses that have fallen in battle and so I had been driving along Cape Road for years, without an ounce of interest, or knowing that this monument was in fact very special. I think that shows that the reputation of being 'the friendly city'  has its foundations in people like Mrs Harriet Meyer, who was responsible for lobbying to get it erected.  I should imagine in 1901 the powers that be took little notice in woman and that Harriet must have campaigned passionately for its erection. You can read more about the memorial here. The film is well worth seeing and shows the conditions that horses served under - take your tissues!
The film also made me think of my own grandfather Thomas Westwell, a dashing soldier who was in the Cavalry, and died of his injuries at the young age of 29 after being wounded in the First World War. How brave he must have been and how much we take for granted in our modern day life.
As the mother of sons, I am so relieved that I have not had to see mine go away to fight with the possibility of them never returning (the average age of those who fought in the First World War was 24 - it was the deadliest of conflicts with 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded)
We may moan about our 'battle' with inflation and our 'struggles' in life  but surely our sacrifice is nothing compared with what generations have had to contend with.
So tomorrow I will leave my tribute at the Horse Memorial....lest we forget.
I will also remember to be grateful for my peaceful life!

THE GREATNESS OF A NATION CONSISTS NOT SO MUCH UPON THE NUMBER OF ITS PEOPLE
OR THE EXTENT OF ITS TERRITORY
AS IN THE EXTENT AND JUSTICE OF ITS COMPASSION

ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION
IN RECOGNITION OF THE SERVICES OF THE GALLANT ANIMALS
WHICH PERISHED IN THE ANGLO BOER WAR 1899-1902

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