The things we remember:
today is November 11, officially Armistice day, and across the globe many communities are paying respects to soldiers – be it the soldiers recalled from the events of WW1 or soldiers who still must fight in a military in 2014.
In Ontario much talk is going back and forth over the value of making the day a National event- since some Canadian provinces already observe the day as a full day of remembrance and use the time up to November 11 to teach about not only the horrors of World Wars but also the hopes that are generated by activists for peace- Planting seeds of peace, encouraging inquiry, focusing on the present generation and all that it may accomplish is an act of doing and making- combining two terms in popular usage today, and sharing that basic desire – that somehow, horrific events are not only not forgotten, but that the meaning of words like “freedom”, “citizenship” and “rights and responsibilities” aren’t just words to be matched up on a test but words that have value, that carry promise, that offer a lifestyle within an ideology of purpose. Not everyone will grow up to be prime minister, or president, or even interested in the political forum. But everyone growing up in a world where there may still be a threat of global violence ought to be made aware of how many people have -over generations- risked everything, in the hopes of building ( making and doing ) places where the opportunity to attempt harmonious living will be a mandate for social action.
We memorized poems when I was in school, and the Remembrance Day full school assembly meant total involvement- K-6th grade for at least a month before – from the Canadian Thanksgiving in October, through to the November event. And through these activities we built up a variety of skills- plugging a sentence from a poem into Google pulled up the full piece; imagine being nine years old and able to use the word “damn” in front of the whole school because it was central to the poem being recited- “Men who could stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking…” demagogue- vocabulary building, poem credit goes to Josiah Gilbert Holland, author, time: American Civil War- linking then the concept of Remembrance to beyond one specific point in time and beyond one specific place. English Literature, social studies, geography, history, public speaking and drama class rolled into one action. Granted, as an adult I know now that my elementary school (public) would have been labelled “progressive” ; and I am aware of how much design went into encouraging us to become makers and doers, to question as well as observe, to participate in the lesson by moving beyond the rote aspect of committing to memory, and to attempt ourselves to evoke the need to care within our listeners- the majority of whom were peers. “Lest we forget” always meant much more than wearing a poppy- it included actively collaborating on projects designed to encourage respect for ourselves, for each other, and for our world.