Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Poignant memories on Armistice Day

By Ross McKee
BBC News

There was no formal ceremony to mark Armistice Day at the Cenotaph in Belfast's City Hall on Tuesday, but that did not stop relatives of those killed in various conflicts gathering to pay their respects.

People had gathered at the gates leading to the cenotaph before they were opened ahead of the two minutes' silence at 1100 GMT.

And even when the rain arrived, some still lingered on to reflect on what the day meant to them personally.

A number of those in attendance were remembering the sacrifice made on foreign fields; for others the loss was closer to home.

Hazel Vines was there to pay tribute to her husband, Sergeant Major William Ronald Vines, who was killed when an IRA landmine exploded at south Armagh in May 1973.

"My husband was in the Parachute Regiment 2nd battalion and we had just got married and had our honeymoon," she said.

This day should not be forgotten by both sides of the community
Ted Edgar
"He was sent to Crossmaglen and blown up in a 400lb bomb. It was just after the honeymoon and I didn't even have a body to bury. I have never got over it.

"I couldn't do this on Sunday because I am still so emotional about it.

"We have still so many good people over here though and my husband knew that, he was from Yorkshire."

Ted Edgar, from east Belfast, was at the Cenotaph to remember relatives who had served in both the First and Second World Wars.

He said: "It brings back memories of my grandfather William Atwell who fought at the Somme in the First World War. He fought with the Royal Irish Rifles.

"My great uncle, Martin Vance, fought in the Second World War. He went in gliders with the Royal Ulster Rifles in airborne division. He was also in Palestine and Egypt and was a prisoner of war in Korea.

"This day should not be forgotten by both sides of the community. There were people who fought from both sides of the community, side by side, in the First and Second World Wars."


Each person has their own perspective on Armistice Day, a theme picked up on by Brian Mehaffey from Portadown.

"To me for remembrance there are two things, the blood shed for so many 90 years ago and secondly it reminds us that as Christians that Jesus shed his blood for us," he said.

He added that a message he had spotted on the side of a pub as he walked to the Cenotaph aptly summed up his feelings.

"It said a nation that looks to the past with one eye is wise, a nation that that looks to the past with two eyes is blind. "I thought it was appropriate. "You have to have one eye on the past and one on the future."

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