Sacrifice of those who died calls for a ‘change of heart’ today, says priest

Remembering the fallen: The Revd Bill Hulse, Robin and Karen Minnitt, Robert and Cadenza Stokes, and Geoff Keeble.

By Betsy Everett

The sacrifice of those who died in two world wars and subsequent conflicts calls for “a change of attitude and a change of heart” in the present day, a Dales congregation was told today.

Preaching at the annual service of remembrance at St Oswald’s Church, Askrigg, attended by veterans of the Falklands war and the Northern Ireland conflict as well as World War ll, the Revd Bill Hulse asked if remembering was enough.

“Are we not also called to participate in the process of trying to maintain the peace which was so hard won, and to establish reconciliation with others . . . even those who at one time may have been our enemy?” he asked. Without such reconciliation, he said, there could be no lasting peace.
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“The sacrifice of the fallen should encourage us to pursue . . . the removal of those things which cause alienation and division. It calls for a change of attitude; a change of heart. Giving up desires for recrimination or revenge, and renouncing prejudice and bigotry,” he said, adding that reconciliation was at the heart of the Christian gospel, enabling people to be at one with each other and with God.

Mr Hulse, former priest-in-charge at Spennithorne with Finghall and Hauxwell, reminded the congregation that it was a hundred years ago on November 6, that the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele, had ended.

“In three and a half months, the Allies had advanced five miles through boggy terrain in atrocious weather. Half a million lives had been lost, 300,000 British and Allied troops, and 200,000 Germans. Such is the cost of trying to maintain western democratic society.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Lenin came to power during the Russian Revolution and 44 years later Russia, hitherto a backward country, had been at the forefront of the space race. That also, however, had not been without its price.

“It was a different kind of cost. Gulags, slave labour and repression. Whatever kind of society we find ourselves living in, or wish to live in, there is a cost to someone, somewhere, as there is to the maintaining of that society.

“In order to protect our society and the freedoms we so cherish, our own nation has found itself at the centre of two world wars in the 20th century in particular. It has been at great cost,” said Mr Hulse.

“As we remember today those who gave their lives we salute their courage. Through no fault of their own, through chance circumstance, they have been thrown into conflicts which, I guess, they would rather have avoided. So many have faced such conflict and paid with their lives. It has been a sacrifice made that future generations may live in peace and in freedom from tyranny. Such freedom we now enjoy.”

During the ceremony wreaths were laid by Karen Minnitt with her father Robin, who fought in the Second World War, Geoff Keeble of Bainbridge, a Falklands veteran, and Robert Stokes (Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq), accompanied by his daughter, Carenza.

The full text of the sermon is here Remembrance sermon

Veterans of different conflicts: Robert Stokes, Robin Minnitt and Geoff Keeble.