Remembrance Day 2023

Published: 17th October 2023

When the seasons change and the autumn and winter coats come out with a bare lapel space, we are often reminded that Remembrance time is upon us. In this and recent years the reality of war has never been far away from our news feeds. That reality may be overseas for those of us in the UK but the horrors of conflict and the legacy that it leaves have a universal impact.

In schools we often focus on the wars that our own country has experienced, with an emphasis on those that have receded into the past but have helped to shape our present. The wars of the twentieth century that gave us our tradition of Remembrance and the wearing of the poppy are usually our focus, but how we approach them doesn't have to remain the same.

This year is also the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, with many of the young men and women of that generation coming to the UK with a sense of connection that military service in two World Wars had created. Britain relied heavily on volunteers, support and goods from the wider British Empire and Commonwealth to be able to fight, function and survive during the First and Second World Wars and it is important to remember that relationship and the impact it had. The other major powers also needed the support of the nations they had previously dominated – and what should have been a lesson in growing together and mutual appreciation has often become a story to be ignored or misrepresented.

This is not just a shame, but also results in a misrepresentation of the historical record, leaving a problematic legacy and one that disappoints. This year we have an opportunity to see how different historical events entwine with one another, affect each other and create a legacy that can affect whole generations. The men and women of Windrush often came clutching their service medals, as did other migrants to the UK. How those men and women served together from across the UK and what is now the Commonwealth should be a real legacy for connection, change and challenge. Engaging with this can give us a better understanding of society, of history and of why Remembrance of past conflicts is important even when there are fresh wars happening around us.

Resources for Primary

Resources for Secondary

General resources