Thursday, 13 November 2008

Remeberance Day goes unremebered here at UCLan

First published at

Yes. There wasn’t a ceremony at the university on Tuesday to mark Remembrance Day.

It seems nobody thought, in a quasi-community of supposedly academic and intelligent people, of people working and learning, that we should have come together and held a ceremony to mark the 11th of the 11th, the 90th Anniversary of the day in 1918 when the First World War, the Great War, the war to end all wars came to an end. Surely, that’s not ok?

Melanie Mingas, a 20-year-old Journalism Student said: “I would have gone to one, but I didn’t see one advertised.” Sadly this may be true of many students, and it wasn’t advertised, because there wasn’t one.

So whose responsibility is it to organise ceremonies to mark events that really should be remembered, and shared with others?

Should the community have involved the university? Yes. But it is clear when the services are, is there more that they can do?

Is the community in any position to do this? An annual Remembrance Day walk in a village, Culcheth, near Warrington was only attended by 50 people, do people in the community even care enough? Possibly not, but in a City like Preston, more should be done to engage everyone in the community, even the visiting students. Otherwise how can you call it a society?

Should orders have come from the top? Arguably, yes. If something of importance to everyone at university is happening, then the easiest was to coordinate something is from the voice of authority. The kind of thing that happens at school.

But we aren’t children. As an organisation itself, couldn’t the Students’ Union have used its authority to organise something? Or even, as a group of people, students, in the community, shouldn’t we have organised something?

A certain detachment from others, the community, and even fellow students seems to come from the emphasis on independent learning at university. Often you have little contact with peers, tutors, and those who might be able to organise such an event. And that is a disappointment.

But there’s also a sense that in greater society people care less about things that were once so vital, the emphasis on the individual breaking down our sense of community.

But the enormity of such an emission cannot be overlooked. Remembrance Day is relevant. There are still people serving in the military and fighting overseas. There are still people dying. One might argue an ideological opposition to these wars but Remembrance Day doesn’t just honour them.

Remembrance Day commemorates all the people who have fought and died in all wars since World War 1. The people who we have to thank for being able to enjoy the lives we do. The millions who have died, those who have been injured, some irreparably, and those who didn’t have physical, but mental wounds.

For the wives, mothers and sisters whose families were torn apart. For the families still being torn apart. For those who enlisted, but also for those who were conscripted- those who fought for their country, because they had no choice, no matter how they truly felt. Even those conscientious objectors, who took the courage to make a stand, and the people who it just so happened were fighting for the opposite side.

The First World War, for all the bad things that happened, eventually brought equal voting rights between the sexes and ages. Women came out of the home and found a different purpose in the labour market and proved their worth. Surely these unprecedented social, political and economic changes could convince those who might argue their opposition to military intervention that Remembrance Day is a day to mark?

Sadly, this year was 90 years since the signing of the Armistice, a significant anniversary, and probably the last that the remaining WW1 veterans will get to see.
There isn’t any point in apportioning blame, because the whole university, probably even society, is at fault. It’s just sad that so many life-changing events are given just one, or two minutes in the whole year where everybody should remember, but can ultimately be forgotten.

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