This is the hardest thing I’ve written so far as I know a little about legacy. About pondering what a life would be; how it could grow and blossom should the universe have deigned it to be so.
I nearly didn’t write about this at all due to that. ‘This is my blog and I can bloody well write about what I like’, I haughtily announced (mental equivalents of hands on hips are required here for full effect). It’s April anyway. The worst time. I hate April, it sucks and it hurts.
But this is such a graceful idea I absolutely can’t let it drift by me without expressing both my love of it and my gratitude to all those involved for sharing it with us.
On August 4th this year we mark the 100th anniversary of Britain’s entry into World War One. We know from the town’s book of Remembrance that 1245 soldiers from Stockton on Tees lost their lives in that conflict.
I feel rotten right now as my loss is still relatively close, it’s near and obvious. The losses of the 1245 represented by this project however were no less raw, painful and cruel. We often look at old photos, sepia-toned and worn, and it’s hard to connect to the faces. To see them, understand them, or feel them as people just like us. They often appear so serious and composed, fashioned in a way we don’t really recognise, looking distant and remote.
Yet all these 1245 were humans just like us, each loss is an individual tragedy. In the short and long term. A catastrophe to those who loved them and to us all for the loss of their potential, losing whatever unique gifts they each possessed and may have shared with the world.
Maybe one day they would have gone on to save lives, solved huge philosophical questions, cured major diseases, created great works of art… Or just held someone’s hand one more time.
This is what Sunflowers connect us with and celebrates. Some of the gardening conscripts thus far are descendants of those lost, others are delving on all our behalf into the past and their imagination about what could have been.
Beautiful isn’t it?
All are encouraged to collect and grow seeds; you can find details of where to get them from by clicking here , 1245 of these will then be ‘cut down’ on August 2nd and 3rd, just as the really come into bloom, and brought to Parish Gardens. A vigil will commence on 11pm on August 4th for 1245 minutes. The whole event culminating in a community-led finale at 7.45pm on August 5th.
You can join in with their campaign on social media – click here for the twitter if you like that kind of thing.
Gentle and genuine respect for those who gave their lives in defence of us all – that’s Real Stockton.