The Royal British Legion
A month or so ago, a friend and I visited the local Veteran Memorial. In the center are these enormous granite slabs forming a circle, facing inward to look upon each other. Each slab lists the names of local veterans who were killed in the war that slab commemorates. We stood in silence taking in the names of so many brave men and women lost to us forever in defense of this great country. Then I turned around and saw something that sent chills through me. This part of the circle was made of the same solemn, black granite as the rest, but these slabs were unmarked, waiting for the next time mankind decided the best or only way to resolve a conflict was through war.
The Great War.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Great War lasted nearly four and a half years. Upon its conclusion, 20 million had died, another 21 million were left wounded. The War to End All Wars, sadly, did not live up to its nickname. It was soon followed by World War II, Korean War, Falklands War, Gulf War, Bosnian war, Kosovo War, War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.
Returning veterans faced a wealth of problems. In Britain alone:
- Nearly two million unemployed
- 1.75 million disabled to some degree, half of them permanently disabled
- 725,000 servicemen never returned leaving families shattered and unable to adequately support themselves
On 15 May 1921, largely at the hand of Lancastrian Lance Bombadier Tom Lister, the British Legion organized to unite the efforts of four other national organizations of ex-servicemen. Known today as the Royal British Legion, the organization supports active and former military members and their families and works to remind all of Britain just how high is the cost of war.
Because the Royal British Legion is not a United States based organization, they have no listing with GuideStar and no rating from Charity Navigator. That said, I am privileged to know former British service members. To a man, they all support the Royal British Legion and their efforts. I have supported this very worthwhile organization and continue to do.
I hope you will, too. To support this worthy cause, please go to: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/ways-to-give/make-a-donation or, buy a lapel poppy. They have some amazing pens made from spent British brass artillery shell fuses found on battlefield sites.