Weekly Reflection – Playing Our Part

21 June 2024

James Stagg is not a name most of us know.  He is connected with D-Day, the invasion of Europe eighty years ago this month, when our country, along with the United States, Commonwealth nations, and allies, sent hundreds of thousands of troops across the Channel to begin liberating the continent from tyranny.

We don’t easily remember Stagg: he didn’t command anything, didn’t demonstrate personal courage on the Normandy beaches.  He was a weather forecaster.  But Stagg’s skill in forecasting the Channel storms in the Channel was crucial in postponing D-Day for twenty-four hours.  Although we can’t prove what would have happened otherwise, that decision may have saved injuries, even lives, and meant the operation was more successful more quickly.

We rightly give thanks for all those who fought in this epic operation, so crucial to restoring our continent’s peace and freedom.  But the easy-to-overlook yet vital contribution of a meteorologist reminds us that, as well as the courageous fighting forces, there were many others who made the operation possible.  Strategists and scientists, specialists and spies, resistance fighters and the families of the troops, farmers and workers back home … all played a part, no less important because it was away from the front line or unseen.

In his address marking the anniversary, The King urged us ‘to live up to the freedom they died for by balancing rights with civic responsibilities to our country.’  Jesus Christ, in a famous Bible story, reminded us that all our talents and opportunities are gifts from God we should try and use to serve others.  A fitting tribute to all those who fought for or supported the liberation of Europe would be if each of us asked ourselves what we could do to help those around us and contribute to our society, whose freedom was made possible by their sacrifice.

Philip Hobday

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