Saturday, November 01, 2008

Beginning year seven

For the annual blessing of the Royal British Legion's Garden of Crosses today, the weather was kind to us. For me this is the seventh time I've presided over this event. It was the first public service I had to perform after my induction as Incumbent on 28th October 2002. Here in the heart of Cardiff for six years already. How time flies!

Again we had two bands accompanying the service - the St Athan RAF voluntary band and the Welsh Pipe Band. I began the ceremony with a brief re-dedication of the two war memorial plaques which we removed from redundant St James' Church and installed in the north aisle war memorial chapel earlier in the year. This concluded with the entry procession of standards, two of which crossed over into the chapel for a ceremonial salute, which alone piper played a verse of 'Amazing Grace'. Simple but effective.

'We will remember them' on this occasion meant the extra job of removing two well fixed brass plaques from St James', storing them for over a year, and then applying for a Faculty to install them, conscious that such plaques from a bygone era are no longer favoured in modern aesthetics of church d├ęcor. Still, justice to be done, particularly at a time when the litany of names of those killed in current conflicts continues to lengthen.

Despite the organisers' lament that the number of veterans from different former conflicts is diminishing, there were still nearly 200 people present, many of them young. After the planting of crosses in the churchyard, the two bands retired into church and played together, just for pleasure before packing away their instruments. It's now the third time they've done this gig together. It makes the whole event something unique to the city centre, and very special.

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