This month we're giving Sue a break as she prepares for Advent and Christmas and it's Phil here instead with a book review — but it's not just any book: it's a book for this time of year, which brings us out of the world of mediaeval saints into today's world, to meet some of the all too often forgotten saints and heroes of our own day:
Ordinary People in Times of War
John Miller (Compiler and Editor)
ISBN 9780715208151 (0715208152)
St Andrew Press, 2004
Sometimes it's easier to forget: it's less painful than remembering. But, as we are reminded at this time every year, forgetting is something we really can't afford to do, not only out of respect for those whose lives were sacrificed in two World Wars but for the sake of those whose lives are still being risked and lost in today's conflicts around the world.
Silent Heroes is a book of memories, a collection of true stories compiled by John Miller, a Church of Scotland minister, from a series of interviews he carried out with some of the elderly residents in his parish of Castlemilk during the years 1985 to 2003. Faced by the annually recurring problem of what to do on Remembrance Sunday, he explains in the introduction:
One autumn day, when talking with John Turner, a resident in a local home for the elderly, I asked him if I might try something new. 'Would you let me interview you?' I enquired. 'I'd like to ask you some questions, and then I'd like to tell your answers to the young ones in the church service this coming Remembrance Sunday.' Mr Turner consented. And so began this series of interviews with with people from the ordinary life of Castlemilk.
The stories are simply told and all the more poignant for that as the interviewees, both men and women, recount their wartime and post-wartime experiences: the losses experienced and the joys of comradeship, mixed with reflections on the astonishing goodness and the horrific evil of which human beings are capable. Some of those whose stories are told here have since died; others are still alive; but for all, these accounts stand as powerful testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and as a reminder to us all of the terrible price of war, a price that we must never forget.
Read and remember.