The crowd was large, but it didn’t stop me getting to the front. (The thing I’ve noticed about this generation is your obligation to step aside for anyone who looks over the age of 60. We’re not all three steps away from a heart-attack I’m pleased to inform you) I shuffled in between a young lady with spiky blonde hair and a man holding a little girl high on his shoulders.
I stuck my head out over the bridge and felt the sturdiness of the railings. They were built by strong hands, proper, working-class ingenuity that should never be underestimated. The cry of bagpipes came from the far side of the river, the sound of fallen heroes and great leaders. The bright, scarlet uniforms of the men aboard the Havengore reminded me of the friends I’d made and lost.
As the boat drew nearer and the Tower Bridge started to rise, I took out the handkerchief from my breast pocket. I gave the old spit shine to my Atlantic Star, made sure it sparkled. I put the handkerchief away and smiled at the thought of history coming full circle after five decades. What was the phrase? ‘The more things changed, the more they stayed the same.’ The Havengore meandered under the bridge and I squared my shoulders, ignoring the stiffness in my back. I saluted from my heart, from every patriotic bone in my body. Here’s to you Mr Churchill, for reminding us that while courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.