It was the silence that first struck me and then the lack of movement. On Leek’s busiest street the total absence of movement was beyond strange, more so given that there were more people in view than I had ever seen here before, in fact the only things moving were the flags on the monument.
The monument, one of the reasons that we were here, a great clock tower made of Portland stone, engraved around the top with the names Hooge, Loos, Ypres, Somme, Bellenglise, Ramicourt, Bohain, Lens and Gommecourt some foreign fields that are forever England, names that used to stir strong emotions in previous generations, although now names that are nearly forgotten in the minds of most.
Still the silence holds sway over the crowd, not a voice can be heard, not a car, not even a bird, nothing seems to dare to disturb the moment, as 100’s of people stand and honour our fallen. Then the bugle sounds, shoulders relax, heads raise and a few tears are swiftly wiped away, people start to move and a wave of sound builds as the crowd slowly comes back to life.
The 2 minutes silence for remembrance Sunday 2009 has finished, but for me my work has just begun, I have made my way here to try and photograph the event for my leek blog.
Sundays for me are normally family days but I really wanted to capture this, as the Monument is the real centre of the town and this is its big day, but as I walked towards the crowd the last post sounded and all noise stopped and not just all noise but all movement as well. So I too stood still, head bowed and gave thanks for all our brave men and women, who’s number continues to grow, who gave their lives so that we can live ours in peace and comfort.
Once the silence was over I walked around the crowd, photographing the sights and marvelling at the number of people that had turned out on a cold Sunday and also at the great age range as it was not just the old, but people from all generations, all I think aware of this ceremonies new found relevance as more of our troops are sent into harms way.
What started out as a normal photo shoot left me very moved, far more than in other years, I think because its not all history any more.