The aim of this book is to provide material that would be useful for someone arranging a Remembrance Event, providing a mix of though provoking items and material that could be used in the event itself.
We start with a short but useful introduction on the history of Remembrance events after the end of the First World War, and some thoughts on the nature of remembrance in the modern world. After this we move into the main chapters, which are largely filled with a mix of poems, essays, extracts from speeches and so forth.
The first two poems set a good precedent – first is the full version of ‘For the Fallen’, best known for the verse starting ‘They shall grow not old’, used at so many Remembrance Day events in Britain. The second poem is ‘Verdun’, famous in France as a tribute to the dead of that battle, but unfamiliar in Britain. After that we get an impressive range of poems and extracts, with some dating back to the middle ages and others very new. Some will be familiar but plenty were new to me, or only known in fragments.
I’m not sure all of the items selected are really suited to be read out at public events – one early example would be Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s broadcast thoughts on Remembering the Holocaust – this is a very thoughtful and moving piece, but it’s written directly from the point of view of the author, so would come across slightly oddly read out by someone else. I’d say the same for the Hiroshima Memorial Day speeches – they get a lot of their power from being read by the Mayor of Hiroshima, in Hiroshima, on the Memorial Day. However these extracts are thought provoking, and well worth their inclusion in the book.
Some of the chapters – in particular ‘Reasons for War’ and ‘Patriotism’ are perhaps more designed to make the reader think about the nature of war rather than for use at modern remembrance events – they are a useful addition to the book and make the reader think. Others are filled with moving poems and essays that would be perfect for those events.
The final chapter includes extracts from the UN Charter and the proceedings of the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. This is followed by two very useful appendices, one with brief biographical notes on some of the authors and the second with the author’s own notes on some of the poems.
This is an impressive, moving and thought provoking collection of material, and I feel that it does indeed achieve it’s aim of being of great value to anyone organising a remembrance event.
Poems and Readings for Remembrance Events
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
'Why, Soldiers?, Why?'
Brothers in Arms
Reasons for War
Patriotism - Patriotic and Uplifting Hymns and Songs
Reflections on War
Messages to Those Remaining
'Say Not Soft Things'
International Law and War
Brief Biographical Notes on Living Contributors
Authors' Notes on Poems
Organisations: Remembrance, Support, Peace, Human Rights
Copyright: Special Permission
Author: David Roberts
Publisher: Saxon Books