Birmingham Citadel Band took part in the annual Remembrance parade and service in Birmingham City Centre, which took on an even greater significance this year in the light of the hostilities in Afghanistan.
This year, despite the parade having to be re-located to a different part of Centenary Square because of re-development work, there was a large contingency from the armed forces and civic leaders. On a cold, grey but dry morning, BCB had set out from the Citadel at 9.40am and the two mile march up to the heart of the city was escorted by a strong police presence.
Many hundreds of onlookers gathered for this annual occasion to remember Birmingham’s fallen soldiers and those currently serving in conflict.
The band presented a thirty minute prelude of suitable music including “I vow to thee my country” (melody from Holst’s Planet Suite) and Richard Phillips’ arrangement of “Amazing Grace”.
After the singing of the hymn “O God our help in ages past”, the sobering sounds of rifle fire was followed by The Last Post, two minute silence and Reveille. Dozens of organisations including the Royal British Legion, council representatives and, of course The Salvation Army, laid wreaths at the cenotaph whilst the band continued to play.
The final march-past saw crowds line the streets, applauding as the parade passed the Hall of Remembrance. The Citadel Band continued from the parade ground and marched back to the hall, feeling privileged to have been an important part of this special occasion once again.
An emotionally charged morning was heightened by the presence of a significant number of the younger generation, who, along with everyone present were aware of the poignancy of the occasion. Young men and women continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice for their country and even on this Remembrance Day, news filtered through that the 201st British soldier had been tragically killed in Afghanistan.