Animals in War Memorial Service 2021

A SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE FOR ANIMALS IN WAR

by Dr Christina Nellist


On the 14th of November 2021 at 3pm, I attended a service held on behalf of the animals who have died in human conflicts and suffered at the hands of humankind. The service was organized by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (ASWA), and I was there representing the Animal Interfaith Alliance. The Reverend Dr Helen Hall led the service. After the Introduction and welcome, the audience and participants sang the hymn ‘O God, our help in ages past’.

I then gave the Old Testament Reading from Isaiah 2:3-4 (NRSVA):
3 Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4 He shall judge between the nations and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.


This was followed by a reflective reading from the Reverend Samantha Chandler:


‘JUST A DOG’


From time to time, people tell me “lighten up, it’s just a dog” or
“that’s a lot of money for “just a dog”.
They don’t understand the distance travelled, the time spent, or
the cost involved for “just a dog”.
Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog”.
Many hours have passed, and my only company was “just a dog”
but I did not once feel slighted.
Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog”,
and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort
and reason to overcome the day.
If you too, think it’s “just a dog”, then you probably understand phrases like
“just a friend”, “just a sunrise”, or “just a promise”.
“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and
pure unbridled joy.
“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.
Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and
look longingly to the future.
So, for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but
an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.
“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts
away from myself and the worries of the day.
I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but
the creature that gives me humanity and keeps me from being
“just a man” or “just a woman”.
So, the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog”, just smile,
because they “just don’t understand”. (Unknown Author)


The service continued with Intercessions by the Reverend Professor Martin Henig, who spoke on behalf of the animals who had died in human conflicts but also those who had suffered and died at the hands of cruel people or practices. He also gave thanks for the safety of the animals and people who were brought out safely from Afghanistan by Pen Farthing, and thanks too, for the people and animals in our armed and civil forces, and many others who keep us safe.


This was followed by ‘A Time to Reflect’ by Revered Dr Helen Hall, which led to the ‘Introduction to the Act of Remembrance’ and a ‘Two Minute Silence’, followed by the quote:


‘They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.’


To which the congregation responded:


‘We will remember them.’


The Laying of the Wreaths on the Memorial was followed by a blessing of the audience and the Hymn ‘Just As I Am’ and the ‘Dismissal’.


Finally, the people gathered to look at the many wreaths placed against the Animals At War Memorial, whereupon we all departed. It was a very moving and beautiful service, and I was honoured to represent the Animal Interfaith Alliance on this occasion.

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