Violets from Plug Street Wood,
Sweet, I send you oversea.
(It is strange they should be blue,
Blue, when his soaked blood was red,
For they grew around his head:
It is strange they should be blue.)
Think what they have meant to me –
Life and hope and Love and You
(and you did not see them grow
Where his mangled body lay
Hiding horrors from the day;
Sweetest, it was better so.)
Violets from oversea,
To your dear, far, forgetting land
These I send in memory
Knowing you will understand
Roland Aubrey Leighton.
We are not new to terror. But neither are we new to pain, and that doesn’t stop it from hurting. It is sad that the easiest way to make a person – or group of people – react is to make them frightened. Sad that some people believe their views are so important that they have the right to take other people’s lives. We teach our children that their bodies and minds are their own, and yet the news is full of stories about people who have taken other people’s bodies and minds without a backward glance.
Roland Aubrey Leighton fought for freedom for his country a hundred years ago. He, and thousands of others, truly believed that the ‘war to end all wars’ would bring peace and safety for those he loved. He gave his life to make a difference. He gave his life to keep his country safe.
In Manchester, last night, nobody got to make a choice about the future of their country. Nobody was allowed to sit and think about how to make the world a better place for the people they love. We teach our children that they are the future and the future is theirs to shape. And yet there are still people in the world – a hundred years after Leighton chose to give his life to keep safe those whom he cared about – who have no rights because other people believe that their viewpoint is more important.
That they can manipulate terror and pain to prove their place at the top of the hierarchy.
There is no longer a ‘forgetting land’.
You can destroy a place and you can destroy peace, but you cannot destroy love.
We are not new to terror, but neither are we new to love.
And real battles are won with love.