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The importance of remembering

by Alison Thurlow

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To consider the positive impact of memories on our lives.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Remembering) and the means to display them.

  • You will also need the YouTube video ‘The Last Post, Menin Gate Ypres, June 2017’ and the means to display it. It is 1.59 minutes long and is available at:

  • The Bible story used during this assembly is taken from Joshua 4.4-8.


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Explain that the theme of this assembly is ‘remembering’.

    Show Slide 2.

    Ask the children to turn to the person sitting next to them and tell each other one happy memory. It could be a recent memory, such as something they enjoyed doing during the recent school holiday, or a memory from further back.

    Listen to a range of responses.
  2. Comment that although it is special to hear so many happy memories, all of us will have some sad memories, too. Point out that we can have a mixture of happy and sad memories. Memories are a link from the past that can influence our futures.

  3. Show Slide 3.

    Ask if any of the children know what the slide shows and what the pile of stones means.

    Listen to a range of responses. Children may have personal experiences of adding a stone to a cairn.

    Explain that the slide shows a cairn. A cairn is a man-made pile of stones that marks a particular spot. For example, a cairn could indicate the summit of a mountain or the location of a specific event. When people climb to the top of a mountain, they may add their own stone to the cairn there.

  4. There is a story in the Bible about a time when the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years following their escape from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Now led by Joshua, they approached the land in which they would eventually live. However, in front of them was the Jordan River, which they would need to cross before moving forward. In the story, priests carried a special, sacred box called the Ark of the Covenant into the river and the water from upstream stopped flowing, enabling the people to cross the river on dry ground. After everyone had crossed, Joshua gave the people an order.

    Read or retell the story found in Joshua 4.4-8.

    Joshua chose 12 men. He called them together and told them, Go to the middle of the riverbed where the sacred chest is, and pick up a large rock. Carry it on your shoulder to our camp. There are 12 of you, so there will be one rock for each tribe. Some day, your children will ask, Why are these rocks here? Then you can tell them how the water stopped flowing when the chest was being carried across the river. These rocks will always remind our people of what happened here today. The men followed the instructions that God had given Joshua. They picked up 12 rocks, one for each tribe, and carried them to the camp, where they put them down.
  5. Joshua wanted the people to remember this moment, so he told them to take the 12 stones from the river and put them in their camp as a reminder of all God had done for them. Stones were something strong and permanent that would remind future generations of what had happened.

  6. Show Slide 4.

    Explain that November is a good time to talk about memories because 11 November is Remembrance Day. This is the day when we remember all the people who fought in the First and Second World Wars, and in more recent wars and conflicts. Many people died and were injured, or lived with the consequences of war. Many still live in war-stricken areas today.

  7. Show Slide 5.

    Explain that many people wear poppies at this time of year as a sign of remembrance.

  8. Remind the children that each year, there are many special services of remembrance. This year, there have been several special commemorations, or services of remembrance, because it is 100 years since some of the worst battles of the First World War took place.

    Show Slide 6.

    Alongside yearly events, some places have a daily reminder of those who have been involved in wars. One of these commemorations is at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. The Menin Gate is a war memorial dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of the First World War and whose graves are unknown. At 8 p.m. every evening, traffic through the gate is stopped, people stand in silence and the Last Post is played on bugles while those watching remember all those who have died in battle.

    Play the YouTube video, ‘The Last Post, Menin Gate Ypres, June 2017’.

Time for reflection

Show Slide 7.

Remind the children that we all have good and bad memories. Many people have bad memories of wars and battles that have been fought. However, alongside sad memories are the happy memories that brave soldiers actions helped to bring an end to the First and Second World Wars. Their bravery led to us being able to live safely.

John Maxwell Edmonds was a poet who was alive at the time of the First World War. He is most famous as the author of the words that appear on many war monuments, which are as follows.

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrows, these gave their today.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
Thank you for all the positive memories we have talked about today.
At this time of year, help us to remember with gratitude all those who have given their lives so that we can live in peace and safety.
We pray today for all those caught in war-torn areas of the world.
We pray for peace and safety.


A quiet, reflective song known to the children, such as ‘Be still and know that I am God’.

Publication date: November 2017   (Vol.19 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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