As the nation prepares to mark Remembrance tomorrow, we hear from Natasha Haward whose father, Group Captain David Haward, was killed in a flying accident in 1998 when she was just four years old. In this guest blog, Natasha reflects on what Remembrance means to her.
Remembrance has always been such an important day in our family. For me it's a time to reflect, to stop and look out at the world around us, beyond ourselves. Today I think we can get so caught up in our own lives and lose sight of what's happening all over the world. It's also a time to remember what so many have done for the safety and survival of others and what they had to go through to ensure that.
Since losing my dad I have always felt a sense of disconnection. My mum and brother had always tried to include me, to tell me stories and be open about life on the base and what it was like being married to my dad, the excitement of the Harriers as they whizzed overhead. Unfortunately, as much as I loved hearing the stories, these weren't my connections, they weren't my memories and so for years there had always been this split inside me.
Somewhere in me was that girl who'd lived that life, laughed with my dad and waved at the planes as they would fly overhead. I hadn't realised but all that time I had been longing for my own personal connection, which came when I wrote my first letter to the RAF Benevolent Fund asking if they'd be able to support me through my three rigorous years at drama school. They immediately responded. From there our relationship began and since then I have never felt closer to that part of my life.
I've been lucky enough to join my Mum at the Cenotaph walking with the RAF War Widows, this is something my mum had been doing since my father died, at first on her own and then with my brother but I was always too young. But when I turned 15 I got my chance and I'm so glad I waited. At the time I had only just started coming to terms with the loss of my father, it came as a huge shift in me emotionally and so to mark that with marching with my mum and all the other women who we were marching alongside, to say it was moving is an understatement.
The amount of people from all different corners of the world were there and not just those marching. What was so spectacular was the thousands who come to support and cheer. There was such an incredible sense of unity and community amongst every single person, you could really feel such a strong sense of togetherness, something I'd never experienced around so many people I hadn't met before. For me that is remembrance, that feeling of everyone united, holding each other up.
History should never be forgotten, we should always be reminded and told about what happened and what is still happening today, what men and women of all ages went through and continue to go through. We can't let those memories die, we must never forget the pain, terror and trauma that engulfed the lives of so many, if these get forgotten or left behind then we will forget where we have come from.