I was born three years after the end of the Second World War and some of my earliest recollections are of the stories my parents told me about that war.
At that age, and at that remove, such stories seemed full of bravery, chivalry and romance.
Like many others of my generation, I had experienced none of the corresponding wretchedness, the bestiality, and the sheer, mind-numbing waste of war. This, of course, reflects the paradoxical nature of our Earthly existence - that everything consists of opposites. There is good and there is evil. There is death and there is also life.
The fact that we have had no major war in Europe for 50 years (leaving aside the tragedy of the former Yugoslavia) does not mean that modern man has somehow conquered the dark side of our human condition which always lurks, menacingly, in the shadows. Far from it - we need to guard against being lulled into a false sense of security. We need to maintain a healthy respect for the dangers those shadows contain.
That is why the simple, conscious act of remembering is so crucial to our continued survival as civilised human beings. There is, it seems to me, a gossamer-thin line that exists between the possibility of utter barbarity and the kind of civilised values for which countless thousands of people throughout the length and breadth of this land, throughout the Commonwealth, and of many different religions, gave their lives during the last war.
Those civilised values, in our country, are a reflection of our Christian inheritance and they represent the legacy of a continuing act of remembrance over the past 2000 years - ever since Christ Himself gave the sacrament to his disciples at the Last Super and exhorted them "to do this in remembrance of me".
Just as Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for his God-given, inner convictions, and wished his disciples to remember him, so, too, did numberless inmates of prison and concentration camps who died in captivity, or those who were going into battle - perhaps for the last time - beg their comrades to ensure that they were remembered. It is an inescapable fact that memory is the one sure feature of our existence. Without memory we are lost and adrift in a world bereft of meaning.
The Latin origin of the word 'religion' means 'to bind', thus, through religion, past and present can be bound together and values can become binding values that provide a sense of belonging in a world that can otherwise, all too easily, become enshrouded by hopelessness, brutality and despair.
Those whose destiny it was to be born at a time when their lives were fated to be cut short so brutally and so tragically, were brought face to face with the prospect of death (and, perhaps, for an instant, with the meaning of life) in a manner that has been unknown to the majority of my generation. In the final reckoning they would no doubt have put their trust in a higher and more mysterious power than the everyday 'reality' of scientific materialism.
Many would have glimpsed something of that divine dimension which inhabits our souls, but which is so easily obscured by what Shakespeare described as "this muddy vesture of decay" and which forms our physical reality. Without a doubt they would want us to remember them, and what they died for, in the way that is done on the continent of Europe with, above all, the children being taught to honour the sacrifice they made and the pain they endured.
Perhaps, too, they would want us to realise that true and lasting peace in the world only comes through the inner peace which every one of us can reach through the eternal struggle to reconcile the opposites in our lives."