Remembering The Few and The One

Squadron Leader D Finlay, CO of No. 41 Squadron RAF, standing with four of his pilots in front of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk II at Hornchurch, Essex, December 1940.
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

This week we commemorate Remembrance Day, and honour those who gave their lives for our freedom.

Some of those we remember are the airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice eighty years ago in the Battle of Britain during World War II. This battle, fought in the skies in 1940, saved that island nation from almost certain invasion by Hitler’s Nazis.

But it came at a terrible cost to the Allied flight crews who were battling the Luftwaffe. The average life expectancy of a Spitfire pilot during the battle was heartbreakingly short: a mere four weeks.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill paid tribute to those airmen in his famous wartime speech on August 20, 1940:

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

This became one of the most famous of Churchill’s sayings, and those airmen became known as “The Few.”

Battle of Britain poster
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

But did you know that Churchill actually started out with a different line when he was composing his speech, and felt he had to change it?

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The Language of Flowers and the Language of God

Say it with flowers!
Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA-2.0

Flowers speak. Not just through their fragrance or their beauty, but with secret codes, too.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “language of flowers” popular during Victorian times? This enchanting symbolic language enabled suitors to send coded messages to their paramours, ones that couldn’t be spoken aloud. The message depended on the particular flowers and colours chosen for the bouquet. An entire conversation could be carried out solely through flowers, with no words employed at all.

We all know that red roses symbolize true love, and we’d rightly guess that the forget-me-not begs that the giver be remembered. But did you know the following flower meanings?

Red carnation: My heart aches for you
Hyacinth: Your loveliness charms me
Canterbury bell: Your letter received
Yellow rose: Jealousy
Butterfly weed: Let me go
Weeping willow: Sadness

The Victorian language of flowers is a cryptic tongue. Most people only see the surface of the flower and not the symbolic meaning hidden within it.

God has His own “language of flowers,” but it actually encompasses all of creation. God is continually speaking to us through nature:

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20 NLT)

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.” (Psalm 19:1 NLT)

If we listened in to what nature was saying about its Creator, what messages would be revealed?

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Break Out Of Your Shell

Eggs of the American robin
Photo by Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA-3.0

Is there a colour more exquisite than robin’s-egg blue? If there is, I’m not aware of it.

To me, the tiny oval of a robin’s egg is perfection itself. Its soft blue-green hue seems to evoke a feeling of serenity. And the shape of the egg itself, all gentle curves, seems to echo this calmness.

I’d love to keep it that way forever, just so, and never see it broken.

There’s only one problem with this: if the egg stayed intact, a baby robin would never be born.

Sometimes we have to break something we cherish for an even more beautiful thing to come into being.

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What Does Love Look Like To You?

The Taj Mahal at sunset.

The Taj Mahal, in Agra, India, is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful buildings, and rightly so. Built from white marble, it was commissioned in 1631 by Shah Jahan as a memorial to his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died that year giving birth to their fourteenth child.

For many in India and around the world, the Taj Mahal is an iconic symbol of love. Every stone and jewel used in its construction speaks of the tremendous affection the Shah had for his wife, and his grief at her passing. To many people, the Taj Mahal is the embodiment of love.

What does love look like to you?

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Spot The Mistake

View from D-Day Landing Craft, June 6, 1944

On Remembrance Day in Canada (Veterans Day in the US), we remember the servicemen and -women who lost their lives to ensure the freedom we cherish so deeply today.

The numbers are staggering: it’s estimated that over 400,000 U.S. military personnel lost their lives during World War II. The US National D-Day Memorial Foundation estimates that over 4,000 Allied servicemen lost their lives on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) alone.

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