Nicky van der Drift: Remembering the dedication and sacrifice of those who fought to protect our freedom

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Armistice Day provides a perfect opportunity to teach current generations about the dedication and sacrifice of those who fought to protect our freedom. It gives communities a chance to unite as they remember those who left their towns and villages and gave their lives.

Wars touch the lives of people of all ages, races, creeds and social classes. Some were killed in action, were wounded, or taken prisoner and the thousands who returned were forced to live the rest of their lives with the physical and mental scars of war. The people who stayed at home also served—in factories, in voluntary organizations, wherever they were needed. Remembrance covers not only those who served but those who suffered through conflict.

At the IBCC we mark the sacrifice of nearly 58,000 men and women who lost their lives serving or supporting Bomber Command. By remembering their service and their sacrifice, we recognise the tradition of freedom these men and women fought to preserve. They believed that their actions in the present would make a significant difference for the future, but it is up to us to ensure that their dream of peace is realised.

An important part of this process is to ensure that the younger generations can learn about Remembrance. As part of this, nearly 600 primary school children from 12 schools across the county will visit the IBCC for a specially written service today (Friday, November 8). They have been asked to write poems about Remembrance and each class has made a wreath, which they will lay as part of the service.

International Bomber Command Centre Director Nicky van der Drift. Photo: Steve Smailes for CityX

This year Remembrance at the IBCC has included a large community project to build the Poppies of Peace Sculpture which will be unveiled in a ceremony later today (November 8).

The sculpture which has been a joint project between the IBCC and the Little Pottery Studio in Lincoln, has received support from a wide range of Lincolnshire businesses and community groups. This support has enabled groups of children, students, RAF families, local residents and veterans to be involved in hand crafting ceramic poppies. The 1,600 poppies have been placed on a 3m x 2.5m steel column that will be sited in front of the Chadwick Centre at the IBCC. The project has involved nearly 1,000 people and has taken 2,059 hours to produce.

The Sculpture will sit in a newly commissioned flowerbed holding over 6,000 bulbs including 1,800 Liberation Tulips. These tulips were commissioned by the Government of the Netherlands in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Operation Manna. This operation saved the lives of nearly a million Dutch civilians who were starving after one of the worst winters in history and the annexation of the West of the Netherlands as a reprisal for Dutch support of Operation Market Garden. Over 20,000 people had already perished during the “Hongerwinter”

Next year sees the 75th anniversary of both Operation Manna and VE Day. This new installation will be a focus for both celebrations and deliver the IBCC’s themes of Recognition, Remembrance and Reconciliation.

On Remembrance Day, the IBCC will be one of many sites across the County holding Services of Remembrance involving thousands of people spanning age, class, faith and race, reflecting the breadth of lives touched by these conflicts, last year we welcomed over 1,000 people including 10 veterans.

In a county like ours where the military has such a key role, the act of Remembrance is even more key. Not only do we remember those lost in the World Wars but those killed in all conflicts and acknowledge the dedication of those who serve today.

During times of war, individual acts of heroism occur frequently; only a few are ever recorded and receive official recognition. By remembering all who have served, we recognize their willingly-endured hardships and fears, taken upon themselves so that we could live in peace.