Although yesterday’s focus of Remembrance was once again at the Cenotaph on Whitehall, London, where the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women involved in the two World Wars and later conflicts was commemorated, there are also many acts and services being carried out across the length and breadth of the Costas.
Both the Torrevieja and Hondón Valley Branches of The Royal British Legion hold their services on Armistice Day itself, 11 November, while the Orihuela Costa and District Branch traditionally holds its commemoration on the closest Sunday to 11th November, the same day as the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in London.
And so it was that, once again, almost 1,000 members of the public turned up yesterday, Sunday 10 November, at the small village church of Capilla de las Mil Palmeras, as they marked their respects for the military and civilian sacrifices made during all conflicts.
The event was especially meaningful for Pastor Keith Brown who was delivering his last Remembrance Service prior to retiring from the post of Branch President. Pastor Keith also delivered the first Remembrance service at the small Catholic Church 11 years ago on a makeshift altar made out of cardboard boxes. In the intervening years he has seen the service grow into the largest and perhaps the most significant Remembrance event in the whole of Spain.
Guests included the British Vice Consul Sara Munsterhjelm who read the first lesson. She was joined by the mayor of Pilar de la Horadada, José María Pérez Sánchez, María Belén Sánchez Tárraga, the Councillor for Overseas Residents, the opposition leader Pilar Samper, along with Orihuela councillor for Health, Jóse Galiano.
Prior to the service, the RBL standards, as well as those of many service associations, including RAFA, RNA, the RMA and, for the first time, a contingent of veterans representing the Irish Army, were led to the church by the impressive Torrevieja Pipes and Drums.
Lessons and readings were delivered by Sara Munsterhjelm, José María, Jóse Galiano and Branch Members Graham Rhodes, Walter Shatford, Malcolm Rusbrook and Colin Holloway.
There were also moving vocal performances from RBL supporter Stevie Spit who sang his own specially arranged medley of classic songs while American Opera singer Valerie Lynch sang the beautiful ‘Lullaby for a Soldier’ (Arms of the Angels). The Last Post and Reveille were played by Derk Hayes of the RBL Band while Piper Alan Shand played the lament, The Dark Island. The RBL Band in Spain also provided the musical accompaniment to the hymns, led by their Musical Director David Last.
Ten year old Angelina and her eight year old sister Leticia, carried the peace candle to the altar, after which they recited the Children’s citation for peace in both English and Spanish.
The service was concluded with the National Anthems of Spain and the United Kingdom after which the ceremony moved out to the International Garden of Remembrance, recently refurbished by the Ayuntamiento of Pilar de la Horadada, where dignitaries and guests laid their wreathes in remembrance after which branch and members of the public added their own poppy crosses in memory of family members and lost colleagues and friends.
Flanked by a large number of the general public the Pipes and Drums then led over a hundred and fifty members of the congregation from the church to the Mil Palmeras Olympia Restaurant where members and guests enjoyed a welcome drink.
Gran Alacant and La Marina Branch of the Royal British Legion, in association with the Ayuntamiento of San Fulgencio, also held it’s annual Service of Remembrance on Sunday.
The National Service of Remembrance was originally conceived as a commemoration of the war dead of the First World War but after the Second World War the scope of the ceremony was extended to focus on the nation’s dead of both World Wars, and in 1980 it was widened once again to extend the remembrance to all who have suffered and died in conflict in the service of their country, and all those who mourn and those who are still fighting for peace and freedom even now.
It is also about all of us learning from the past and resolving to make the world a better place in which to live, and with so many more children becoming involved in the event here on the Costa Blanca we are now rather more assured that the future of remembrance is in increasingly safe hands.