How should we commemorate remembrance day?
At 11 o’clock on the 11th November 1918 the guns of the First World War fell silent. Over 100 years later we still look to mark this moment in time with reverence, remembrance and respect.
Does the passage of time make remembering the world wars less significant than it once was? Does the act of remembrance bring current events into a sharper focus?
Remembering where it began
With its origins in the Armistice commemoration of 1919, the 11th of November has evolved and changed over the years. Initially, the day was to commemorate the sacrifices of the First World War; the Great War was never to be repeated. Thirty years later, World War Two began with an even greater loss of life, and a much wider sacrifice from the wider population.
By the 1950s, the Armistice commemoration was formalised into what we now know as Remembrance.
Proceeding years have seen global conflicts, from the Falklands in the 1980s to the Gulf Wars in the 1990s and 2000s. With each conflict, more names have been added to memorials across Britain. Recognising the ultimate sacrifice those soldiers have made.
In the words of the Royal British Legion: Remembrance honours those who serve to defend our democratic freedoms and way of life. Therefore, Remembrance is more than an act of grief but a recognition of the importance of our civil freedoms.
Beyond this, it is about all of us:
[Uniting] across faiths, cultures and backgrounds to remember the service and sacrifice… from Britain and the Commonwealth.
Certainly, war and conflict are something that need not be celebrated.
However, it seems appropriate that we should remember individuals from Britain and the Commonwealth. Those well-meaning men and women, who without thought of their wellbeing stood up for the ideals of democratic freedom.
Rememberance in schools
It is easy to get swept up in the hubbub of school life, to let the world pass you by. Easier still to see Remembrance as a box to be ticked for our PSHE curriculums.
However, Remembrance offers us a chance to take a step back and a moment. A chance to come together as a community. We owe it to our students and ancestors to give them this moment. Undeniably, running a Remembrance assembly or lesson allows staff and students to reflect; an opportunity to learn about the significant moments in our past and learn about the individuals who were willing to give their all.
For many schools, this will be the first time in recent years that the whole school community has come together as one due to restrictions that have previously been in place.
Arguably teaching about Remembrance brings the modern world into sharp focus; remembering not only wars in days gone by but also more recent conflicts. Today, with the war in Ukraine and veterans from recent wars still needing our support, this national day of importance should be marked accordingly.
Without a doubt, now more than ever, we need to remind ourselves of those who have sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to enjoy our freedoms.
When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrow, we gave our today (Edmonds 1919)