We had two minutes’ silence in school on Wednesday to remember those who have sacrified their lives in conflict for the freedoms which we enjoy today. The Last Post was played by a group of our students and we stopped and reflected as a school community. It was moving, dignified and appropriate.
In the evening I watched the service on television from Westminster Abbey which marked 100 years since the burial of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey and found it especially powerful. The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an Army Chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the words 'An Unknown British Soldier'. Following the end of the war it was decided that a body should be exhumed and brought back to be buried in Westminster Abbey. The body of the soldier was chosen at random and he represents all soldiers who have given their lives in conflict. He lies in a tomb at Westminster Abbey surrounded by Kings and Queens and a great many of the great and good of this country. The Queen laid a wreath at his tomb earlier this week and stood to pay tribute to him.
For me, the power of the Unknown Soldier lies in equality, that in conflict and the desire for freedom we are all equal and should strive to be so. I wrote in the Term 1 Newsletter about Nelson Mandela, a man who fought for freedom and equality his whole life. Mandela was a hugely charismatic figure, a wonderful writer and speaker, yet the Unknown Soldier is the opposite, a figure defined by his silence and anonymity but still a symbol of sacrifice for freedom who means so much a century on from his burial. Both should be celebrated and highlighted to our young people and their significance discussed.
Finally, thank you to our Year 11 parents and carers for their patience and understanding when the online parents’ evening booking platform initially crashed and then worked intermittently on Thursday evening. This was due to circumstances beyond our control and we are today reviewing what went wrong with the company which provides the service. I know that it did function effectively later in the evening and that a great number of phone calls were made by teachers but we will be in touch next week to explain how we can address any missed appointments.
Poppy photo by Annabella Baroni, Year 8.