As the College prepares to remember, this Sunday, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, our country came together to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. This weekend marked 100 years since the signing of the Armistice which signaled the end of World War One.
The Armistice Day Exhibition in the Atrium, curated and created by Greg Slysz, Ljubinka Jeftic, Simon Pearson, Sid, Tia and our Y10 students, depicts the start of the War, the atrocities associated with it and the end of the war which at the time was hoped to end all wars. But we never learn. The exhibition is a powerful as well as a poignant reminder of how futile war is. The Great War poets, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon are also commemorated in the Exhibition.
Along with our own service of Remembrance, where I hope those important values of tolerance and respect resonate with the College, there will be public ceremonies, as well as many private moments of quiet thought and reflection. Some will think of the stories families passed down. Others will remember those who gave their lives in other conflicts, or who are still serving.
That’s the point about Remembrance. It is one of those national moments that is both collective and individual. No one has to take part, which makes it all the more powerful that so many choose to do so, wearing a poppy (red or white), attending a service or ceremony or standing in silence with millions of others. More than a million British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed. On that final morning in November 1918 alone, 11,000 soldiers of all nations, faiths and colour are thought to have died or be wounded.
Remembering this matters. It’s important we do remember, not only this war but the many that have happened since. Not because it glorifies conflict, but because it brings people together to give thanks for the sacrifice of others. To take part in Remembrance is instead to think of the threats we have faced and overcome as a country. It is to think of people from all backgrounds, and many parts of the world, who served and the many millions of women and men who contributed on the home front. We do it to remember those who keep our country safe.
The Kohima prayer which forms part of the Remembrance service, is as compelling as it was then as it is now ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today’.
Irfan H Latif