“Speak kindly” of other nations as war dead are remembered, says priest

Left to right: Robert Stokes with daughter Carenza to his left, Robin Minnitt with daughter, Karen, and Geoff Keeble, prepare to lay wreaths in St Oswald's Church, Askrigg.

By Betsy Everett

Bells tolled for the dead of two world wars at the Service of Remembrance in Askrigg today as the 200-strong congregation in St Oswald’s Church was urged to “speak kindly about the people of other nations, and other ethnic groups at home.”

There may be nothing we could do to stop the wars in Syria or Yemen, said the Revd Vera Sinton, and we all had our “fears and prejudices,” but she had a warning about where these could lead.

“It is very easy to let off steam by turning those fears into stories that breed disrespect and hatred. That is what Hitler did with horrific effect,” she said. “If we admit our fears and prejudices to God we can ask God to replace them with compassion, understanding and love.”
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She reminded people of the two meanings of ‘peace’. One, the Roman ‘Pax,’ was “the absence of war based on physical force, coercion, deterrence and negotiating skill.”

“On Remembrance Day we come to honour and support the armed forces that have been given the job of Pax, defending and securing our country from attack and of helping our allies maintain peace and justice throughout the world. We remember and give thanks for the courage with which they risk their lives and we express our sadness at the price they paid,” she said.

But the other meaning was the Hebrew word ‘Shalom,’ which was “the complete well-being of body, mind and spirit,” and the service of remembrance was also intended “to keep alive a vision of Shalom. To remember that every human being is loved by God and worthy of our respect and care.” 

Representatives of three generations laid wreaths at the war memorial in St Oswald’s recalling different conflicts. Robin Minnitt of Askrigg served in the Second World War, Geoff Keeble of Bainbridge served 25 years in the Royal Navy and fought in the Falklands, and Rob Stokes of Castle Bolton served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan during his 22 years’ army service.

The names of those locally who died in the two world wards were read out. First World War, William Appleton, William Banks, James Chapman, Frank Dinsdale, John Horn, James Kirkbride, Bernard Lodge, John Metcalfe, Robert Metcalfe, John Mitton, Robert Mudd, Thomas Miller, James Preston, William Webster. Second World War, Sidney Kirkbride, Walter Brown, George Cockburn, Ernest Stevens, Jack Hindle, David Shorter.

Veterans Robin Minnitt and Norman Fletcher met in India during the Second World War. and were reunited when Norman moved to Bainbridge four years ago.


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