SACRIFICE comes not only in war, but is “the virtue that smooths the rough roads over which our societies travel”, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday, as he paid tribute to those “unnamed and unclaimed except by God” who are commemorated by the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
The socially distanced Armistice Day service at Westminster Abbey, marking the centenary to the day of the burial of the Unknown Warrior there, started at 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday. At 11 a.m. there was two minutes’ silence. Attendance was by invitation only, but the service was streamed live by the BBC.
It was led by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, and Archbishop Welby preached. Among the congregation were the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Archbishop Welby said: “We pay tribute to the men and women who died on so many battlefields, unnamed and unclaimed except by God.
“Sacrifice not only comes in times of war. . . It is the virtue that smooths the rough roads over which our societies travel. This year people have put aside all they hold dear. We may not know what they have suffered or given up. They may be anonymous, but their actions are glorious.
“From their lives comes fruit. From the life of this Unknown Warrior comes the fruit of Remembrance and hope. When we face deep uncertainties and difficulties, we do not just look after ourselves — we make a stand. We know that none of us are safe until all are safe.”
A procession to the tomb of the Unknown Warrior was led by Guardsman Rian Morgan of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The Union flag used to cover the grave a century ago was laid on the high altar.
Public worship during the latest lockdown, which began last Thursday, was forbidden except for a restricted number at Remembrance Sunday ceremonies and those attending the service on Wednesday. Armistice Day was added to the list of exceptions on Monday, to allow the public to attend events held outside in accordance with pandemic restrictions (News, 10 November).