It is wonderful to see how far a piece of cloth could go. It is a green tie, close to its 5 July (FT printing date) heart date. Would it have sounded silly in any other day, to tie it around a picture of US World War Two veteran Jack Pope’s enlisted shoulder as he stood among thousands of vets, reporters and TV crew, a warm breeze in the air, the sun on the war memorial at the Boston memorial to those who died in the service? I should tell you that I was not at the memorial. But, I was just about to. My wife was visiting the graves, as she does at a year’s intervals, to take pictures of the commemorative ones with his marker already in place. I could hear the service going on at the Memorial Church, three blocks away and very slightly off to the side. I was reading my wireless at a distance in the middle of the day when I heard a chirp from three walls down and saw that there was someone standing there holding a green tie around a picture of Jack Pope. Nice shirt too The man had the tie and tie balled up, ready to place the frame around Mr Pope’s arm. He then climbed onto the scaffolding. It was a breeze that was very cold, so Mr Pope, and I’m sorry to say most of the other vets were shivering. I was nearby when the mayor of Boston and about 30 other dignitaries came out on stage and started to read the names of those who had fallen and to the strains of “Taps” they spoke of what their service had meant and how much he had meant. I went to the Press Centre nearby to speak to Mr Pope to ask what he wanted to say. “What’s that?” he asked, looking quite dazed. “Well… I hope that you know that we are not being forgotten.” “Why?” I asked. “Because you forget. We are still being remembered. The men and women you meet every day don’t forget. You only have to look at the newspapers to see that.” “But they forget?” he asked again. “Oh yeah. “I mean, all you have to do is turn on the TV and you see all of these terrible pictures, and then if you get an article at the Daily or Evening newspaper you will see that the same old thing is happening. But we talk about it. We fight about it. We write about it. We talk about it on our websites. And we keep on fighting. So if we keep on telling them we have to keep on fighting, why shouldn’t you forget that we have to keep on remembering?” “But you…” He shook his head. “But you can’t do anything about it.” He said that each of the 3.5 million active military had nearly 40 grandfathers, five great-grandfathers and 15 great-great-grandfathers who had died in service and then went home. He said that the families did not know how long their relatives would be on active duty. We turned and left and I thought how wonderful it would be if we could pull together a national conference which would provide a forum for a mass of staff to learn about how a smaller group of people could have managed and fought and been so happy, to be together in their time of need and to meet one another again after they had all gone. I knew that there is no time limit. I can change the heads and get away from the window, the first year I have really been able to do that and talk to one another in the same way, to hear about the families, about their fears, about their regret. All these things I knew then and I know all these things now. I can always get away from the window. It will always be there.
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