Reflecting on Remembrance Day with ex-Serviceman Sam Tripuraneni
add-victor Alumnus Sam Tripuraneni served with the British Army as an Officer in the Royal Lancers from 2004 to 2012, punctuated by two Tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Leaving the Army in 2012, Sam transitioned into the financial services and has since built up his career by specialising in responsible investment and sustainable capital. Prior to becoming the Head of Sustainable Outcomes at Aviva Investors, Sam worked for 7 years at BlackRock within the Sustainable Investing team – a perfect example of a successful transition out of the military and into the corporate world.
Previously Chair of the EMEA Veterans Network at BlackRock, Sam is a champion for ex-servicemen and women transitioning out of the military. Looking ahead to this weekend’s commemoration of Armistice and Remembrance Day, we asked Sam to reflect on what both anniversaries mean to him.
“Remembrance [Day] has become a very personal thing for me, maybe it always has been. It is more all-encompassing than the world wars, than the armed forces, than the Britain of the first half of the twentieth century. It is unique, diverse and inclusive.”
In 2011, whilst my regiment was preparing for a series of homecoming parades after an operational tour in Afghanistan, I was asked by a local media reporter about Remembrance Day. The question was framed the public understanding that Remembrance Day honours all those who have died in the line of duty, across the Commonwealth. The truth is that I at that time, amongst many, still viewed Remembrance Day being about those who died fighting during the World Wars. So much of the ceremony, the poignancy, the symbolism of the poppy, refers back to that time, and perhaps my own formative memories of the day, reflected the experiences of my parents and grandparents.
To some extent the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were too real, too live at that time. That doesn’t discount the experience for those families touched by those wars. Those homecoming parades were marked by the sadness of those lost – that was very real and very live. The friends and families attended: some lining the streets; some marching alongside, every step of every parade; others in uniform in the ranks. A family regiment, in its family heartland. A memory worth keeping.
Remembrance Sunday and the wearing of the poppy remains a very visual and important part of the nation’s diary. This will be a particularly sombre year, the spectre of war in Europe is a reality many have never faced; the death of Queen Elizabeth, another link lost to the war generation. Very few remain who served in World War II, even fewer who lived through World War I. The British Armed Forces look very different now to then, more reflective of the multi-cultural Britain that we have become. It won’t be long before recollections of Iraq and Afghanistan gather dust, overtaken, rightly so, by memories being formed by the latest generation of service men and women, in this ever-changing political landscape.
Since leaving the army in 2012 I have left behind the large formal military ceremonies. I now celebrate Remembrance Sunday at a small village church, no more than 20 people – a community nonetheless, sharing a quiet moment to remember and reflect in our own ways. On the other hand, life has led me to celebrate with friends the likes of ANZAC day[i], Canada Day[ii], Thanksgiving and Memorial Day - none of which are on Armistice Day, but have in their own way captured the spirit of Remembrance.
So Remembrance has become a very personal thing for me, maybe it always has been. It is more all-encompassing than the world wars, than the armed forces, than the Britain of the first half of the twentieth century. It is unique, diverse and inclusive. For me it is a small connection to a time when I was too caught up in the moment - the friends, those with us and those not, the shared experience, camaraderie and a life worth living – a chance to show my appreciation for all those who still serve us as a public – be they armed forces or emergency services.
[i] Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served".
[ii] Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of Canadian Confederation which occurred on July 1, 1867, with the passing of the British North America Act, 1867 where the three separate colonies of the United Canadas, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.