To appreciate the importance of shared memories and Armistice Day.
by The Revd Alan M. Barker
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To appreciate the importance of shared memories and Armistice Day. Bible link: Matthew 5.3-10 (Jesus' famous sayings called the Beatitudes help us to remember how happiness can be found and shared).
Preparation and materials
- You will need a 'memory display', consisting of a British Legion poppy and other items associated with memory, e.g. a photograph, a diary, an appointments calendar, a fridge magnet, a Post-it note, a video, a knotted handkerchief, an electronic organizer, a floppy disk, a newspaper clipping, a war-time medal. All the items need to be arranged so that they are clearly visible to all the children, but to begin with they are carefully covered with a sheet.
- Tell the children that you are going to test their memory. Show the objects in the memory display for just a short while. Ask one child to recall as many as they can, while you compile a list of things remembered. Explain that he or she will probably need the help of others to remember everything - ask other children to help until the list is completed.
- Point out that the children had to help one another to remember, and that the items displayed were all associated with memory. Talk about some of the items, highlighting their significance. Some help us to remember and plan for future events. Others assist us to remember past events and people. Who keeps a diary or uses an electronic organizer … or a scrap-book?
- What special times and experiences do the children recall? We can all remember both happy and sad experiences. Remembering helps us to learn from the past and to plan for the future. The sharing of memories is an important part of family, school, and community life.
- Focus on the poppy and explain that it helps us to remember those who lost their lives or were injured in wartime. The Poppy Day Appeal, organized by the Royal British Legion, helps those ex-servicemen and women who continue to suffer as a result of wartime injuries, and it also helps their families.
Explain that the poppy was chosen as an emblem after the First World War (1914-18). Thousands of soldiers fought in France and many lives were lost in trench warfare. (A photograph might help everyone to understand.) Each summer poppies grew in the soil churned up by the fighting and their colour spoke of the blood which had been shed. War memorials in almost every town and village list the names of those killed, and so help us to remember how the war brought sadness and disruption to so many homes. Refer to a local war memorial and, if appropriate, the phrase 'Lest we forget'.
- Conclude by talking about the silence observed at 11 a.m. on Armistice Day, 11 November, and in church services on Remembrance Sunday. It is a way of remembering not only past events but also the suffering that war continues to bring to the world today. Some will remember heroes, others will mourn friends whose lives have been lost. It's important that in this way we help one another to remember. The sharing of memories strengthens our community life. If appropriate, build a time of silence for this purpose into the reflection below.
Time for reflection
Invite the children to quietly remember a happy time and to be thankful for it. Ask them to recall a difficult time and to remember friends who helped. Ask them to remember others in need of help because of the suffering caused by war.
We thank you for the gift of memories that we can share together.
Help us not to forget the feelings of others.
May we heal painful memories through kindness
and create better, happier, memories for tomorrow.
'Make me a channel of your peace' (Come and Praise, 147)