Remembrance Sunday Songs of Praise


Remembrance Sunday

Eamonn Holmes is in Enniskillen, where an IRA bomb exploded at the cenotaph in 1987, and he introduces hymns from St Macartin's Cathedral.


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Transcript


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Hello there and welcome to a very special Songs Of Praise

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on this, Remembrance Sunday.

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It's a time to reflect and commemorate the men

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and women who've been injured or have lost their lives

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in two World Wars and in other conflicts past and present.

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We're also reminded of the families who've been left behind

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and join with them in honouring the sacrifice

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that their loved ones made.

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Today being Armistice Day,

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we remember the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,

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when the guns fell silent, marking the end of the First World War.

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On this special day, the widow whose husband

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was killed in Afghanistan draws strength from her faith.

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The survivor of an IRA bomb 25 years ago remembers all of its victims.

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And Remembrance Day hymns from Enniskillen.

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We're in Northern Ireland's most westerly county

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in the stunning lakelands of Fermanagh.

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And it's a very poignant time to be here.

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25 years ago, people from the town of Enniskillen gathered,

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as usual, at this cenotaph to remember those

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who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars.

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As the crowd of men, women and children assembled,

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a devastating IRA bomb exploded, killing 11 people

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and injuring many more.

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AGITATED CHATTER AND SCREAMING

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Images of Enniskillen were beamed around the world,

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with one of the fears being that this horrific event

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would turn Protestant and Catholic neighbours against each other.

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But instead, the people from Enniskillen worked together

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to promote peace and understanding.

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Today, the congregations of both traditions unite

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to remember the past and build a future together,

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here at St Macartin's Church of Ireland Cathedral.

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The cenotaph in Enniskillen is unusual in that,

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alongside the names of those killed in two World Wars,

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are inscribed the names of the 11 people

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who died on the 8th of November, 1987.

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Doves have been added to the memorial,

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one for each person killed in that Poppy Day bomb.

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One of those represents Samuel Gault,

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who was a retired police officer.

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He'd come to pay his respects on Remembrance Day

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with one of his sons, Stephen,

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when they were both caught up in the blast.

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I never heard the bang,

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but I remember a thud on the back

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and I must've been unconscious for 30 seconds.

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Coming round, this eerie silence, and then all of a sudden,

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there was just... A noise erupted.

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AGITATED CHATTER AND SCREAMING

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'The screaming, the shouting.

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'I started hearing the building falling round me.

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'I remember, I tried to move. I couldn't move.'

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I was buried to the knees and I thought, "Where's me dad?"

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And I looked down and I seen my father beside me

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and his head obviously had been pushed into the railings.

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Sammy Gault died instantly.

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His son Stephen, who was standing beside him,

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was one of more than 60 people injured.

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Two days later,

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Enniskillen began the harrowing task of burying its dead.

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Do you ever think, "Why did I survive and others didn't?"

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At times, I would feel guilt.

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"Why was I not killed?"

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At my lowest point, I would think,

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you know, "I wish I hadn't survived that fateful day."

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Stephen's life has moved on to happier times.

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That's the poppy I was wearing.

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Seven years ago, he married Sharon,

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a Catholic from County Cork.

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She's been a great support, and helps him deal

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with the day-to-day reminders of what happened.

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Roughly two weeks after the bomb,

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I developed the skin condition psoriasis,

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'and then six years after that,

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'it transformed into psoriatic arthritis.

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'People say time's a great healer'

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and to me, every day I get up and I try to do anything with my pains,

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that is a constant reminder of what happened on Remembrance Day.

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Despite Stephen's current health problems,

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he volunteers his time at the Ely Centre in Enniskillen.

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It was established in the aftermath of the Poppy Day bomb

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to offer support to victims and survivors of terrorism.

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He hopes that he can help others

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by talking about his own experiences.

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I'm 42 years of age. I lost my dad when I was 18.

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He never saw me growing up into the man I am now.

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He wasn't there the day I got married

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so it's very difficult to come to terms that my father is not with me.

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November 1987 was a dark, dark day for our family.

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I know my mum was a great believer in faith.

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I think that's what helped us through.

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'Hopefully, with my experience

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'and how I came to live with it, I can help other people do the same.'

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The small market town of Enniskillen

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gives its name to not just one army regiment, but two.

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The Inniskilling Fusiliers

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and the Inniskilling Dragoons go back 300 years,

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when the Catholic King James and Protestant King William

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waged war on one another.

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By the outbreak of the First World War,

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the regiments were recruiting men not just from Enniskillen.

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Recruits came from all parts of Ireland,

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including towns that are now in the Irish Republic.

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In 1914, the entire island of Ireland was under British rule

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and both Protestants and Catholics volunteered.

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But after the war ended, the political landscape changed

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when Ireland gained its independence from Britain.

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For those Irish nationalists

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who signed up to fight for the British Army,

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their involvement was often seen as contentious

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and embarrassing for their families.

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Many relatives felt unable to publicly commemorate their service.

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But this year, more than 90 years on,

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the county of Cavan has, for the first time,

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officially remembered the men from the Inniskillings

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and other regiments who were killed in battles

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like the Somme and Gallipoli.

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Today, as part of a Peace III project,

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the Northern Ireland Phoenix Group

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are bringing ex-servicemen and women from Enniskillen

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to Cavan in the Republic of Ireland

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to meet with retired members of the Irish Defence Forces.

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It's something I couldn't have done 20 years ago

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because around the border area, the IRA was very active.

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'Today, it's very relaxed.'

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You don't think of any danger or anything you would have 20 years ago.

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Today we are reaching out to our counterpart across the border,

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who we've seen but never spoke to.

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Today we have an invested future with both North and South.

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-You're welcome, now.

-Hello, are you well?

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Now, standing shoulder to shoulder,

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they remember all those who were killed in the First World War.

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We've come together to worship God

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and to remember those who have lived and died in war

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as they sought to serve others.

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It's important to us as a country

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that we can look back to our ancestors

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and say, "He was one of mine."

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Not alone does it highlight

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the way Irishmen fought side-by-side

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but the different denominations that did participate within the war.

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My great-grandfather was part of that

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and I'm very proud to wear his medals.

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In the recently changed political climate,

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the men from the counties of Fermanagh and Cavan

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can at last join together to commemorate

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all the soldiers who fought and died in the First World War.

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# Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence

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# Over Belleau Wood that night

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# For a Christmas truce had been declared

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# By both sides of the fight

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# As we laid there in our trenches

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# The silence broke in two

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# By a German soldier singing

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# A song that we all knew

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# Though I did not know the language

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# The song was Silent Night

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# Then my friend, he smiled and whispered

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# "All is calm, all is bright"

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# Then the fear and doubt surrounded me

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# For I'd die if I was wrong

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# But I stood up in my trench

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# And I began to sing along

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# Then across the frozen battlefield

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# Another's voice joined in

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# Until one by one, each man became

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# The singer of the hymn

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# Then I thought that I was dreaming

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# For right there in my sights

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# Stood the German soldier

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# 'Neath the falling flakes of white

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# Then he raised his hand and he smiled at me

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# As if he seemed to say

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# "Here's hoping we both live to see us find a better way"

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# Then the devil's clock struck midnight

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# And the skies lit up again

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# And the battlefield where heaven stood

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# Was blown to hell again

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# But for just one fleeting moment

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# The answer seemed so clear

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# Heaven's not beyond the clouds

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# It's just beyond the fear

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# No, heaven's not beyond the clouds

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# It's for us to find

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# Here. #

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The beautiful and majestic lakes of County Fermanagh.

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On a good day, you can see the Sperrin Mountains behind me

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and Donegal in the Republic of Ireland just ten miles that way

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and look very carefully

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and you can begin to pick out the hundreds of islands

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that are dotted around these lakes.

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This is Lower Lough Erne. It looks very peaceful today

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but during the Second World War,

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this was to play a pivotal role in the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Squadrons of flying boats made their base here at Lough Erne,

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possibly the most picturesque runway in the world.

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It was the job of the Sunderland and Catalina planes

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to protect the Allied shipping convoys from the German submarines

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that were patrolling the Atlantic.

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These long-range planes were ideal for locating and attacking U-boats

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and their greatest success led to the sinking of the Bismarck.

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Sadly, by the end of the war, over 300 airmen had lost their lives.

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The role that they played

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and the importance of the air bases in Lough Erne

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will never be forgotten.

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BUGLE PLAYS "THE LAST POST"

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"The family has been informed." Words that no-one wants to hear,

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but ones that we are only too frequently hearing

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on news reports from Afghanistan.

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When Brenda Hale heard the knock on her door

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on the 13th of August 2009,

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she turned the key and locked it.

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Her husband, Captain Mark Hale from the 2nd Battalion, the Rifles,

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was killed by an improvised explosive device

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in Helmand province.

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What sort of man was Mark?

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Mark was hugely intelligent.

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He was fitness mad,

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he was an amazing father,

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an adorable husband

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and an outstanding soldier.

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Mark had a very, very strong Christian faith.

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Rather than the boys go without any pastoral care,

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Mark would have taken the services the padre should have taken

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because he wasn't able to get out, and he would say to the guys,

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"Don't be scared, you know your drills, you've been trained for this,

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"get out there and get the job done

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"but be really aware that God's out there too."

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Brenda, can you make any sense of Mark's death?

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I prayed very specifically on his leave

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three weeks before he was killed

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with Mark for angels to be at his feet and to protect him from IEDs.

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So when, three weeks later, he's killed by an IED, I have to believe

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that those angels WERE at his feet, they just didn't bring him home.

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They sent him to heaven.

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Since Mark's death, Brenda has been elected

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as a politician to the Northern Ireland Assembly

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with a promise to fight for other army families.

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'I have a constituent that's come in and he obtained an injury

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'while serving in Northern Ireland.'

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He's now hitting retirement age...

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'In my office I've been getting more calls and people who are not in my constituency saying,

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'"I've been medically discharged to deal with post-traumatic stress or life-changing injuries"

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'and they're no longer in the army and they need help and so they come to me

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'because I've been through the system and I know how it works.'

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What about Remembrance Sunday, has that changed for you in any way?

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Mark is constantly, constantly in my thoughts

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as he has been when I first met him when I was 16.

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For me and the girls, we remember him every day

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but when Remembrance Sunday comes

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and other people are wearing the poppy, I feel like they're giving me and my girls a hug

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saying, "We know what you've lost."

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And we're thankful but we're also very sad too.

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'When days are particularly busy or emotional for whatever reason,

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'you might have heard a record on the radio,

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'you've smelled some man walk past wearing the same aftershave

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'and you catch your breath and it knocks you, you just have to think,

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'"be still" because in among there, God is there and just to know that

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'as Christians, our lives and our paths are very firmly in his hands.

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'His favourite hymn was I Vow To Thee My Country.

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'Mark served his country with everything he had

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'and in the last verse it talks about "but there is another country"'

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and of course that is heaven. And Mark is serving there now.

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Earlier this year as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations,

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Her Majesty the Queen visited Enniskillen.

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After a service at the Protestant St Macartin's Cathedral,

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the Queen made a short but hugely symbolic walk across the road

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to the Roman Catholic Church of St Michael's.

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That simple act of entering a Catholic church in Ireland

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for the first time was seen as a gesture of goodwill

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and recognised as just how far the peace process

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in Northern Ireland has come.

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And it's the choir from St Michael's

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who sing for us now on this Remembrance Sunday.

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# May the Lord show his mercy

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# Upon you

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# May the light of his presence be your guide

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# May he guard you

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# And uphold you

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# May his spirit be ever

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# By your side

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# When you sleep, may his angels

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# Watch over you

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# When you wake

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# May he fill you with his grace

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# May you love him

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# And serve him all your days

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# Then in heaven

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# May you see

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# His face

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# Then in heaven

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# May you see

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# May you see

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# His face

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# May you see

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# His face. #

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They shall grow not old

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as we that are left grow old.

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Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

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At the going down of the sun

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and in the morning,

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we will remember them.

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All: We will remember them.

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HE PLAYS "THE LAST POST"

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HE PLAYS "THE ROUSE"

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Go forth into the world in peace.

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Be of good courage.

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Hold fast that which is good.

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Render to no-one evil for evil.

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Strengthen the fainthearted.

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Support the weak.

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Help the afflicted.

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Honour everyone. Love and serve the Lord,

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rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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ALL: And the blessing of God almighty,

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the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

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be among you and remain with you always.

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-CONGREGATION:

-Amen.

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And that brings us to our final hymn on this Remembrance Sunday -

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For All The Saints.

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Next week, for Prisons Sunday,

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Aled is given access to one of the nation's Category C prisons

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to meet staff and prisoners and get a glimpse of life behind bars.

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And there'll be hymns from around the country.

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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

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Eamonn Holmes is in Enniskillen, where an IRA bomb exploded at the cenotaph in 1987, and he introduces hymns from St Macartin's Cathedral as the local community remember all those killed or injured in conflicts past and present.


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