We Will Remember
An assembly for Remembrance Day
by Penny Hollander (revised, originally published in 2007)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider those who have sacrificed their lives so that we can live in a more secure world.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a bunch of flowers. If one is not available, you will need some images of bunches of flowers and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples are available at: https://tinyurl.com/y5h2z627 and https://tinyurl.com/y6tdcbqo
- Have available some images of poppies and poppy-sellers and the means to display them during the assembly. Examples could include:
- poppies growing in a field, available at: https://tinyurl.com/y3zwvp2a
- people selling poppies, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yy2dxeut and https://tinyurl.com/y2mukeje
- Remembrance Day poppies, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yxhqhwdg and https://tinyurl.com/y5g6afs9
- If possible, have available a tray of poppies and a collecting tin from the Royal British Legion.
- Optional: you could ask some children to read the different sections of the assembly, in which case they will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly.
- Ask a volunteer to hold the bunch of flowers. Alternatively, show the images of bunches of flowers.
Ask the children why someone might give flowers to another person.
Listen to a range of responses.
Point out that flowers are sometimes used as a gift for remembering birthdays and other special events such as weddings and Mother’s Day. They can be used to say ‘Thank you’, ‘I remember you’, ‘You’re special’ and more.
- In early November, we often see people wearing another kind of flower. It doesn’t bloom at this time of the year in this country, but on the streets, in shops, at railway stations and in school, red paper poppies are sold and then worn on jackets, coats and jumpers.
- Show the images of poppies and poppy-sellers, explaining what is seen in each image.
If available, ask a child to hold the tray of poppies and collecting tin.
Ask the children if they know why poppies are worn at this time of year.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Explain that poppies help us to remember those who have died, sacrificing their lives to ensure that we remain a free country. We remember those who have fought and given their lives for the rest of us and our future.
During the fierce fighting of the First World War, many fields became battlegrounds and wild habitats were destroyed. In the Flanders region of Belgium, where many thousands of people died, the first flower that took seed and grew after this destruction was the poppy. Ever since, poppies have been used to remind us of the war, and of the sacrifice of those who died to ensure a more secure world for all of us.
- In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - that is, 11 a.m. on 11 November - the Armistice, or peace agreement, was signed, signalling the end of the First World War.
- The Royal British Legion, a charity dedicated to helping service personnel and their families, took the poppy as its emblem. A Remembrance Day poppy is a reminder to each one of us to say thank you to all those who died during both world wars, and in more recent conflicts around the world. Buying poppies is not only a way of saying thank you; the money is needed to help those who are affected by war, including the families of service personnel.
- Towns and villages throughout the country celebrate Remembrance Day, particularly remembering those in their own community who have suffered loss through war. People gather at special memorials in their local community, and poppy wreaths are laid there. Everyone observes a two-minute silence at 11 a.m. This gives us a chance to say thank you, silently and together, and reflect on how war affects us all. It is important that we don’t forget those local people, local heroes.
Time for reflection
Let’s stop and think for a moment to say thank you.
We can listen to some special words that are often spoken during Remembrance Day services.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Optional: explain to the children that you are going to reread the words before joining with other people in the country and spending some time in silence to remember those who have fought for peace, from the First World War to the present day.
We want to say thank you for all those who have fought and died for the freedom we enjoy today.
We remember past conflicts, but we also remember those who are fighting in wars all over the world right now.
We remember, too, their families and friends, and ask that you will give comfort to them.
Teach us to be compassionate, caring people, ever mindful of the needs of others.
We will remember.
May we always be thankful.
‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’ (Come and Praise, 147)