by the Revd Richard Lamey
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To show that whole communities are affected by war.
Preparation and materials
- Give yourself time to collect information about those who are remembered locally for the parts they played in the two World Wars and other conflicts. Also, for the 'Assembly', Step 4, research someone whose name appears on a local war memorial - where he or she lived, any stories, hobbies and so on. The more personal and local this can be, the better. Similarly, adapt Step 3 as necessary using information you have gathered about your local area.
- Gather images of the following and have the means to display them during the assembly:
- a large war memorial, such as Theipval, the Somme, France, which gives an idea of the large numbers of people who died during the World Wars
- a local war memorial the children will recognize
- a photo of someone named on that war memorial
- a poppy.
- Have available 'Jupiter' from The Planets by Gustav Holst and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
- Say the beginning of the rhyme, 'Remember, remember, the fifth of November . . .' November is a month of remembering, as it also includes All Saints and All Souls, when we remember and give thanks for the people who showed us how to live for God and taught us how to love.
Remembrance Day is part of this remembering, too. It is a day when we remember those who were killed or wounded (in body or mind) in the service of our country.
Show the image of the large war memorial.
- We have been remembering lots of wars and lots of people the last few years. The 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London in 2014 represented the 888,246 men and women from Britain and the Commonwealth who were killed in the First World War. It is impossible to really think about such a huge number of people. We need to focus on a few to help us take it in.
- In the local church, there is a war memorial that lists the names of x people who died during the First World War. They lived in our houses and went to our schools, including this one, and walked our streets and loved the same views and hobbies as us. They even sat on this floor. They planned what to do at the weekend and played sport, rode bikes, just as we do. When they were your age, they had the same dreams that we do, of growing up and getting a good job and having a family. They were loved as we are. These are not names we are remembering, they are people, they are lives and they are individuals who mattered very much to those who knew them.
Show the image of the local war memorial.
- Let’s limit our focus a bit more. Let’s focus on the name . . .
Show the image of someone named on the local war memorial.
Ask one of the children to stand up, in among the other children, to represent that person.
Talk about what you found out about your named person’s service and death and where he or she is buried.
Ask some of the children around the child representing your chosen person to stand up to represent his or her family, giving as much information as possible about the names of sisters, brothers and so on.
Then create another circle of children to be the people they knew from school, work, the football team, neighbours, friends in the Army and so on. Soon, nearly everyone in the room will be standing, symbolizing how even one death affects a large number of people, all with different relationships to the person who has died.
Ask all to sit down after a few moments.
- In remembering one name, we are also remembering the families and communities related to them and the price they paid. Think now of all the other names on the local war memorial. Then think of all the names there must be on the memorials in France. Now think of the other nations, the other wars and the wars that are going on today.
Show the image of a poppy.
Time for reflection
Remembrance is not only about remembering a name or a person.
Each name is a life, a person, an individual like you, and it is about realizing that the price of war is a heavy one for the whole community.
Just as the community at the time was affected by what happened, so we are remembering as a community today, affected by what happened and thankful to those who served and those who lost people they knew and loved.
Read Revelation 21.4 (NRSV):
'he will wipe every tear from their eyes.'
We pray for everyone affected by wars long ago and by wars today.
We remember those who died.
We pray for those who were wounded and those who watched people they loved go off to war, never to come back.
Help us to remember and help us to work for peace - at home, in school and always.
'Jupiter' from The Planets by Gustav Holst