On Armistice Day, we walked as a school, to the War memorial on the Green. Although not a long walk for adults, for our smallest children – and their little legs, this felt like quite a trek. But it was important one to make. As we walked, others from the local community walked past us, with a shared vision. To get to the green, to be at that memorial point, to be together but more importantly to remember. We arrived and gathered together at the green opposite the stone cross etched where some wreathes had already been laid by a stalwart few on Sunday. Some others were already gathered and possibly wondered about the site of one hundred children gathering nearby. And Year Five began. Confidently and calmly they did their readings. Unembarrassed by other possible spectators, this was our Act of Remembrance and we were happy to share. At the appropriate moment, the wreath was laid with due respect and children and staff shared the names of any specific people that they would be thinking about. Then we stood in the slightly chill autumn air, feet planted on wet grass and soil: remembering, honouring the fallen. It was a very special and moving time.
This led me to reflect on remembering and the role that it has in our lives. How lovely it is when, in conversations people say things such as, “I have this wonderful memory of you, of the time when you………” To be remembered is to feel honoured and cared for. Try it with your children, share a memory of them with them and see how they smile. You are expressing a shared history and reaffirming identity and security.
When someone that we love dies, we hurt. That grief can be all consuming and we are wracked with a multitude of emotions from anger, bitterness, disbelief, sadness and finally acceptance but one of the things that helps us through these times is remembering the happy times and the events that were shared. Remembering things that they taught us, through word or deed and how they were instrumental in shaping our lives. We will all suffer loss in our lives but the acts of remembering those people ensure that they live on in our hearts, in our family and become embedded in our family history and culture.
Whilst I am not an advocate of being stuck in the past, neither am I a proponent of being completely stuck in the present. If we do not look back at history, if we do not reflect, then we will not be able to shape our futures for the better. Reflection gives us balance and momentum.
We stood on that Green, all generations, together remembering past souls and past events, and we acknowledged that whatever tragedy befalls us, the world keeps turning, the birds keep singing and the grass will keep growing. Change is our constant and our children are the ones who will be eliciting change and forging our future.
We remember so that we never forget.
“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”
Elie Wiesel – Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor.