Frances Marshall, a volunteer with the Powys War Memorials Project, wrote this emotive article about war memorials in Llandrindod Wells, Powys:
Lost, Forgotten, Found
What is a memorial? If someone had asked me that question eight years ago I’d probably say a statue with some names and words inscribed on it, recording people long gone from this world. Shadows trailing behind us, the nagging thoughts at the back of our minds, ghosts, who wail from beyond the grave, hoping for us to listen to their stories. And why should we? Sadly, that is what most of my generation of internet-dependents probably believe as well.
When I first volunteered to help the project locate and record memorials, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Llandrindod Wells is a small town and the only memorial I had been aware of was the one standing near its centre.
So imagine my surprise when I was informed there were possibly eighteen memorials in Llandrindod rather than one, all waiting for me to find them.
I guess there is a good side to technology after all.
To date, I have learned memorials can come in a variety of forms; brass plaques, stone obelisks, wooden Rolls of Honour and can be located in even the most obvious and sometimes overlooked places such as community churches.
Personally, I find it unfortunate to see the past hidden in a place of sanctuary. But then again where does one go when you are forgotten?
Of all the memorials I have seen so far, the planted oak trees at The Lakeside, the war graves in the town’s cemetery and the cenotaph outside Llandrindod High, I found the stained glass windows in Trinity Church the most outstanding, not simply because of its enlightening display, but for its metaphorical representation. It is fragile like the bodies of the soldiers as they clambered over the trenches, avoiding bullets and missiles. Yet, it lets in the light and stands as a protection against the terrifying truths of the world. The colours; pieces of the souls reassembled by the hands of those they fought and died to protect.
And I suppose that is what all memorials are. Our way to preserve the soul, to anchor the men and women whose final thoughts were torn and shattered by the howling of air sirens and whistling of bombs, to assure them that they are home now and that they are safe.
The dead can’t say much anymore. Which is why it is up to the living to step in.
Memorials are not just stone statues and glass windows, they are a physical representation of our ability to be selfless.
No one wants to be forgotten or left behind.