That summers day, the old man looked over the sea but did not see. He noticed, of course, the contrails in the sky of airliners winging their way to Paris or Spain. But he remembered the contrails of older more evil aircraft. For in august 1940, he flew those self same skies in his Spitfire defending what was left of free Europe. The memories came quick and fast. Yellow nosed fighters spitting fire at him. The smell of cordite as he shredded the invading bombers. The claustrophobic cockpit as he fought to bail out over a grasping sea. He was breathless with the sharp clarity of the images. Still he got out. He got picked up. He survived. His friends, room and drinking mates did not. Why him? Had he lived a life that had been worthy of their loss? Did he ever regain something from his lost youth in the misty years that followed?
A tap on the shoulder. It was Marjorie the carer. ‘Time to go home now George’. Time indeed.
May we live in thanks giving
For all who sacrificed for us
May we never take for granted
The cost of being free.
May we never forget
Our lives have been purchased
At a price beyond our forgetful today.