Remembrance Day Assembly Script
Every year at the beginning of November, people begin to wear poppies. We all know that it’s something to do with remembering people who have died in wars, but sometimes it can feel that it doesn’t have much to do with us personally. But if you are one of the many people who have been affected by recent wars such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan you probably wish that other people knew more about the sacrifices that soldiers have made, and continue to make.
The story of the poppy begins during the First World War, or, as it was more commonly known back then, The Great War.
The Great War broke out a hundred years ago in July 1914. It seems hard to believe now, but there were celebrations in the streets and long queues of young men at army recruiting offices, eager to join up. They dreamed of heroism on the battlefields, winning medals to the glory of Great Britain and wanted to put the “upstart Germans” back in their place. It would all be over by Christmas, or so they thought.
But this was war on a scale that had never been seen before. This was the first war to use aeroplanes, tanks and submarines; and machine guns, mortars and poison gas meant that thousands of people could be killed in minutes. In the face of such overwhelming destructive power, defense became increasingly important, so miles and miles of slimy trenches were dug across northern France and Belgium.
Patriotic enthusiasm soon evaporated to be replaced by grim disillusionment. These poems help to sum up the feelings of the average soldier at the time:
After the Battle of Ypres in 1915, field surgeon John McCrae wrote a poem called In Flanders Fields about the bright red poppies that grew in the desolate mud of the battlefield and on the graves of his fallen comrades.
Read In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
Click Here: In Flanders Fields Poem
A woman called Moina Michael read the poem and wrote her own – called We Shall Keep the Faith – in response. She began to wear a poppy to remember the dead and sold them to raise money for the injured.
Read We Shall Keep the Faith by Moina Michael
Click Here: We Shall Keep the Faith Poem
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the guns finally fell silent. So many people died during the war that it’s impossible to get accurate figures, but around 17 million were killed and over 20 million were injured. The American President at the time, Woodrow Wilson, called it “The war to end all wars”.
But he was wrong. Conflict continued throughout the twentieth century and on into the twenty-first: The Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, the Iraq War, the Libyan Civil War, the Syrian Civil War, and now the fighting in Northern Iraq. Millions more people have lost their homes and families, or been injured or killed.
Some people wear the poppy as a symbol of support for soldiers who are still fighting, but that was never the intention when the tradition began. It was worn as a reminder of all the people who had died; a reminder that all people should help to create a world where men, women and children did not have to die in bloody conflict. So in many ways, it could be seen as a symbol of peace.
Many of our parents and grandparents will know of people in our families who died in the Second World War. Some of our parents will know of someone who died in more recent conflicts. Some of us will personally know of someone who died in Iraq or Afghanistan, or Bosnia. The terrible consequences of war continue to be felt.
The film you are about to see shows people who are determined to see a world without war in their lifetime.
Show the film Is Peace Possible?
When we have the two minutes silence at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, remember those who have died. Or remember those who are still fighting. Or think of a world with no war, and make a promise to do your best to achieve it.
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