Richmond Remembers World War I

Many Richmond students have been studying World War I as part of their cross-curricular studies, and the school commemorated Remembrance Day last Wednesday with a minute of silence and other ceremonies.

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a day observed to remember those who lost their lives serving their country in World War I, with hostilities officially ending “on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”

An emblem of Remembrance Day is the red poppy, a flower that is one of the first to recolonize land that has been disturbed, as so much land had been due to the ravages of the First World War. The poem “In Flanders Fields,” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, inspired the use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Students learned that:

  • Nearly 10 million soldiers died in World War I.
  • That is nearly 300 people dying every minute for four years.
  • Almost 30,000 soldiers died in one hour of fighting in World War I in 1916.

As part of Richmond Remembrance Day, Year 5 read a number of poems, including this one. Others were “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” by Wilfred Owen, “Attack” by Siegfried Sassoon, and “The Soldier” by Rupert Brooke.

It was a moving experience for many students, particularly those in Year 5 who read these stirring, haunting works. We’ll leave you with Laurence Binyon’s “For The Fallen.” Given recent events in Paris and around the world, these words still reverberate in our own time.

They shall not grow old
as we that are left grown old.
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
As the going down of the sun,
and in the morning
We will remember them. 

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