During our recent visit to the Imperial War Museum, I was surprised by my two and half year old’s level of interest in what was happening in the exhibits. Why were the people fighting? Did anyone get hurt? Would we have to eat off little ‘ration’ plates too (apparently a key question…)? This got me thinking about how to explain potentially upsetting events like war to young children in a way that is most helpful and least terrifying…. I found the articles here and here quite helpful, though take from it what works for you!
Armistice Day (commonly known as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day in the UK) is this Sunday, 11 November 2018. If you have a preschool or older child who is interested in the two World Wars, or just wants to know more about what Poppy Day is about, this is the perfect week to attend some of the commemorative events in London. Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifice of men and women in the course of World War I, during the period 1914-18. Each year on 11 November, the signing of the Armistice between the Allies and Germans is remembered by observing a two-minute silence at 11am. From 2014-18 Armistice Day has a special significance as it marks the centenary of the First World War.
Below is just a snapshot – there are many more events around the city, and the Armistice 100 initiative has a great searchable map if you’re looking for events near you.
Remembrance Sunday is always the second Sunday in November, which in 2018 in fact falls on 11 November. Concerts, church services and commemorative events such as bell ringings and art exhibitions take place across London to remember the men and women who gave their lives in combat.A big event each year is the service and parade at the Cenotaph at Whitehall, attended by the Queen, military representatives and politicians.A unique feature of this year’s proceedings at the Cenotaph is the #Armistice100 parade, where 10,000 members of the public will have the opportunity to process past the Cenotaph.
The BBC will be broadcasting the service from 10:00 am on Remembrance Sunday.
Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum has led a number of initiatives to remember those who made a contribution during the First World War, whether they died during the war or survived the conflict. One of the most poignant is the Life Story program, which aims to ‘fill in the blanks’ for more than 7.6 million people from across the Commonwealth who contributed to World War I. It is an interactive multimedia experience which all ages can get involved in, and will continue to run until March 2019.
The permanent exhibitions are also of course worth a look, and at the moment The Poppies Tour continues with the ‘Weeping Window’ sculpture by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper being located at the IWM London until 18 November 2018 (the ‘Wave’ sculpture having taken pride of place at IWM North until 25 September 2018). The poppies were originally installed at the Tower of London in 2014, where 888,246 poppies were displayed to represent each British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War.
Westminster Abbey is running a number of events, ranging from the Field of Remembrance (where a field of poppies blankets the Abbey’s grounds), to armistice services and bell ringing, to the ‘There But Not There’ exhibit (that aims to place a silhouette for each name on a local war memorial around the UK). There are events suitable for the whole family, I think, and most run until 11 or 12 November 2018.
Dates and times for all events can be found here.
Tower of London
Historic Royal Palaces, which runs the Tower of London, has commissioned a new installation in the moat at the Tower. Beyond the Deepening Shadow involves filling the moat with thousands of individual torches in remembrance of the lives of the fallen. will be repeated each evening from 5-9pm until 11 November.
As the nation commemorates the centenary of the end of the First World War, a new installation at the Tower of London, Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers will fill the moat with thousands of individual flames. We attended this ceremony on Tuesday 6 November and it was beautiful but absolutely packed. I would recommend attending as close to 9pm as possible if you want a reasonable chance to actually see the flames (not such a toddler-friendly time, I know!).
Portman Square – Marylebone Remember 1914-18
An example of a local event is Marylebone Remembered 1914-18; a small but perfectly formed exhibition showcasing the people of Marylebone’s response to World War I. Through local newspaper clippings and minute books, the exhibition explores the sentiments and activities of Marylebone residents including looking after Belgian refugees and (shock, horror) employing women to help with ‘war work’.
The exhibition is brought to life by the Portman Estate and Howard de Walden Estates, and runs 10am-5pm until 9 November 2018.
Do you commemorate Remembrance Day? I’d love to hear any other event ideas or how you explain these kinds of ‘big ideas’ to your children!