The White Headstone

Middle Park Estate resident Ron Strong has written about the sacrifice of our soldiers and with the centenary of the start of World War I upon us, we wanted to allow a wider audience to read Ron's words.  Ron's piece below is entitled "The White Headstone".


"I had travelled all night to get there to see them in the early light, I was now just standing in front of the white headstones of this cemetery, the sun was shining and its light made them stand out against the green grass as it did the others, the sky was a lovely blue, with just a few small puffy clouds drifting by on a slight breeze which seemed to bring the sent of the flowers on it, as the clouds polished the sky to make it look its best, the big monument with its cross standing there so tall and proud, with the words. OUR GLORIOUS DEAD. I looked at the headstone the words striking home like lightning, an unknown soldier of the First World War, I looked at the rows of white headstones stretching out before me, standing in Regimental order like soldiers on a parade ground, straight, tall and proud, I started to walk along them and you could see many of them marked unknown soldier, known only to God, but they were known to someone a wife, a child, a parent, they had been someone’s husband, a child’s father, someone’s son, how can they be unknown, how pitiful this is, other headstones had names written on them like, Private John Smith of the Middlesex Regiment, and Sergeant Harry Jones of the Durham Light Infantry, and many others from other regiments, and from all over the world in many cemeteries, there was the Canadians, Australian, Indian, Fijian, the Gurkhas, Americans, French, and many other countries who had done their bit members of the British Commonwealth countries, they had all fought well and bravely, I also thought of all the headstones of the Second World War too, those who had fought on the beaches on D-Day, and the other battles on the Sea, Land and in the Air, all those headstones too, I sat down and had my sandwiches I had brought with me, my mind still drifting into a world we could never understand how could we, we were to young and we can never understand the great courage they must have had to do such brave things, full of fear but still finding the courage to go on, I realised I had been day dreaming for hours just sitting there and now it was late afternoon, the sun starting to head towards the horizon, I got up and made my way back to the first headstone I had stood at when I arrived, the sun now behind the big Monument casting a shadow down across the headstones, the writing on them now not so clear in the fading light, as I stood there, it was as if they were gathering all around me thanking me for coming to see them, and I started to understand, on the breeze I could swear I could hear in the distance the sound of a lone bugle playing the Last Post, it sounded very ghost like, I looked at that headstone and said “Thank you to all of you for what you did for me and everyone else, you made it possible for us today to live in freedom and peace although there are still wars going on, it is thanks to you and those today still fighting and giving their all that keeps everyone safe, for your courage and bravery, and for the Ultimate Sacrifice we thank you, and we will never forget you”.

At that I turned the sun now very low on the horizon casting very weird shadows all around it felt kind of eerie, yet I was not scared or afraid, it was a kind of peaceful feeling, and just for a second I thought I could see the soldiers standing there waving goodbye to me, I waved back, but I must have been mistaken for when I looked again there was no one there, but I like to feel it was them saying goodbye to me and waving, stranger things have been known to happen so just maybe, you never know do you, I left with my thoughts of the white headstone, and those brave men still on my mind.

                                                                        We thank you"