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This month once again plays host to one of the more sobering events of national interest; Remembrance Day. With Remembrance Sunday this year falling on the 14th and Remembrance Day as ever being November 11, we are once again given the chance to think about and reflect on the many sacrifices made by British soldiers since the beginning of the 20th century. However it can perhaps be questioned how well we as a nation actually commemorate these soldiers.
There have long since been grumblings about the lack of a public holiday for Remembrance Day in Britain, and though we are not alone in this (several other nations, for example, the Republic of Ireland, also do not have a public holiday) we may wonder why we have chosen not to mark the day in this way, particularly when others such as France have seen fit to do so. On a closer level it seems that even at Lancaster University the day is not being given the attention that it deserves, as I discovered to my dismay last year when a lecturer of mine failed to observe the two minute silence.
Remembrance Day has been a feature on our calendars since it was introduced in 1919 in the aftermath of one of the most destructive wars in recent history – the First World War – because of which approximately 10 million people worldwide lost their lives. When thinking of this war our minds are driven towards images of trenches and barbed wire, bayonets and machine guns, horror and bloodshed. It is then little wonder that Britain in 1919 felt a need to honour and celebrate the soldiers that had gone through this.
Of course Remembrance Day now is not only for those who fought in World War One, but also for all those who have fought in conflicts since; World War Two, the Malayan Emergency and the Falklands are but a few examples. The recent war in Iraq and ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan serve as a present day reminder of the strength and bravery of British soldiers and the seemingly daily reports of servicemen and women being killed or injured is a stark reminder of why we owe them all our thoughts in the coming weeks.
So what exactly can we do here at Lancaster to celebrate Remembrance Day? Well there are a number of things happening locally. On Sunday the 11th there will be a Service of Remembrance in the Garden of Remembrance in town at 10:40am during which wreaths will be laid. For those of you who are not put off by a bit of travelling there is to be a Remembrance service and concert in Morecambe on the 13th at 7:30 with tickets costing £6. And of course there are the good old Poppies which will be on sale at LUSU, proceeds of which will go towards the Royal British Legion.
Whatever you decide to do this November 11 I hope we can all spare just two minutes to think about what exactly the day stands for, and I urge you all to wear your poppies with pride.