I was lucky enough to be invited to the Tower of London last week, to celebrate the launch of the Historic Royal Palaces Learning Team's Why Remember schools' campaign. This campaign asks three simple questions:
- Why should we remember?
- Why is 100 years significant?
- How do you want to remember?
Another thing the day brought home to me was the sheer number of soldiers who died. 888, 246 is a pretty hard number to visualise but when you start to think that every poppy planted in the moat represents a person, it gets easier. Standing on Tower Hill, gazing out at the sea of red, I began to consider the sons and husbands and fathers and uncles who went off to war and never came home as real people, rather than a number or statistics. I also learned that the Tower keeps a Roll of Honour - a list of Commonwealth military fatalities from WWI - that is read out at the close of every day. The Last Post is played at the end, another way of remembering, and simply watching some of the videos of this simple roll call made the hairs on my arms stand up.
So here are my answers to the questions above:
- We should remember because these were real people, giving their lives for the freedom of others, regardless of whether it was right or wrong.
- 100 years is significant because there is no one alive now who was there - it's our job to keep the stories of those who lived then going. 100 years is a milestone that helps us to share these stories.
- I want to remember by helping to plant the poppies and by keeping in my mind that every single one of them represents someone's son.