The Importance of Remembering
A reflection for use on or around Remembrance Day
by Nicola Freeman
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To help us to understand the importance of remembrance, and the symbolism of the poppy and the Christian cross.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (The Importance of Remembering) and the means to display them.
- Have available the YouTube video ‘Thank You – Armed Forces’ by the Royal British Legion and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.32 minutes long and is available at: https://youtu.be/V5jGClCGcc8
- Optional: you may wish to have available some mementos that you can share with the students and explain why they are important to you. These could be photographs, jewellery, pictures that your children have drawn and so on.
- Show Slide 1.
We all have mementos, items that we keep to help us remember something important. Maybe it’s something to remind us of a holiday we went on, or of a person we love.
If possible, share some mementos of your own and explain to the students why they are important to you.
- Show Slide 2.
The poppy became the symbol for the Royal British Legion after its formation in 1921. People wear poppies to:
- remember those who have lost their lives in war
- say thank you for those who have fought or are still fighting for peace today
- remember the freedom that we have because of the sacrifices of others
- Ask the students, ‘Why is the poppy a symbol of remembrance?’
Explain that poppies grow naturally in disturbed earth in Europe. During the First World War, the fields of northern France were ripped open by shells, artillery and tanks. When the fighting stopped, one of the first plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields was the poppy.
- Show Slide 3.
Explain that the poppy is a symbol of hope in the face of conflict. It represents life in the face of death.
In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah reports God as saying, ‘I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.’
- Show Slide 4.
The poppy is also a symbol of saying thank you. Let’s watch a video that the Royal British Legion has produced to say thank you.
Show the YouTube video ‘Thank You – Armed Forces’.
- It is important that we:
- recognize what people did and that many people have played a part in our freedom
- realize how the actions of the armed forces have affected us today
- remember the sacrifice that was made and the tremendous cost to many people
- Remembering to say thank you is not only important around Remembrance Day; it is a habit to develop in life.
Encourage the students to think about how they could thank people who have done something special for them. How can we show our appreciation to those who laid their lives down for our freedom?
‘Thank you’ is just two words, but those two words can bring life to someone. They can tell someone that what they have done has been recognized and appreciated.
- Show Slide 5.
The poppy is a symbol of sacrifice, too. In 2014, London marked 100 years since the beginning of the First World War with an art installation that consisted of 888,246 ceramic poppies planted in the moat around the Tower of London. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war.
The sheer scale of the display emphasized the sacrifice that was made. It reminded us that many people lost their lives or lost loved ones in the war. The fact that the sea of poppies was made up of individual poppies reminded us of the life of each person lost.
We see poppies at this time of year to remind us of the sacrifice that service personnel have made so that we can live in freedom today.
Time for reflection
Show Slide 6.
Christians believe that there is another symbol of sacrifice: the Cross. They believe that Jesus sacrificed his life to give us hope, freedom and victory.
Show Slide 7.
There are several verses in the Bible about sacrifice.
John 15.13 says, ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
Pause to allow time for thought.
Show Slide 8.
Today, we remember all those who have given their lives in the hope of bringing peace and justice.
We give thanks for the bravery of men and women who have served for harmony in this world.
In a world that is still torn and broken, where many children still live in fear, for those countries still in the grip of war, we pray for your peace.
May we remember the sacrifice of others for our freedom.
May we remember your sacrifice for our peace.
May we seek to bring peace in whatever situation we find ourselves.
The ‘Last Post’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCDWYgVyps (1.44 minutes long)
‘Remembrance’ by Hillsong Worship, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APEQ8lsrY0c (5.35 minutes long)