A two pound coin sits on my desk. Its edge inscription reads: The lights are going out all over Europe. Following on from Mrs Windsor’s assembly this week, I used this small piece of sterling to introduce children to the theme of Remembrance. It is important that we continue to mark the events of one hundred years ago and the centenary of the 1918 Armistice.
A hundred years; a lot can change in a century. As an historian, I wonder if the First World War generation looked back to the Battle of Waterloo as having any bearing on them. Perhaps not, but it helps put in context the reasons why, despite the Great War being almost entirely absent from living memory now, we must never forget the great sacrifice and bravery of that generation; the soldiers, those who supported them and their families. It was fitting to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, and the losses suffered from 1914-1918, during the Second World War and other conflicts since, with our wider community. I was glad that many parents were able to take up our invitation (this will now be an annual event) to listen to words, poetry and prayer as we pledged to never forget. In case the girls and boys of Lyonsdown would like to read the exhortation I read again, I include it here:
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.
Although the period of Remembrance can be a sad one, we must remember that the message coming from the 11th November is also one of hope. That, by fighting the good fight, be it on the battle field or not, we can make the world a better place.
The heritage of the UK, and the Lyonsdown community, is so brilliantly diverse that it is not only Remembrance we have marked this week. The calendar has also seen the fifth of November, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, and Diwali only two days apart. Both events are full of vibrant colour for very different reasons, and I hope that you were able to enjoy a firework display at the weekend or for the festival of lights on Wednesday. In a very fitting way, the prayer the Hindu side of my family recite should also remind us of hope: from darkness, lead us to light.
So, we arrive at a weekend where we will remember what has gone before us and the hope that we have for the future. All the best, however you will mark the 11th November.