Updated: Wednesday, 3rd June 2020 @ 3:06pm

Commemoration of heroes is 'challenge for our generation', claims war grave commission

Commemoration of heroes is 'challenge for our generation', claims war grave commission

By Alan Ross

A more active way to commemorate the UK's war dead is being urged by a Manchester academic after the Commonwealth War Graves Commission recently announced a nationwide awareness initiative.

The commission is planning a volunteer outreach programme to provide local groups and schools with a range of resources linked to graves in their hometowns ahead of the centenary of the First World War next year.

There are a number of war graves in Greater Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University historian Dr Sam Edwards, who specialises in war commemoration in Britain and France,  has called for a more active approach in how we commemorated our war dead.

“Commemoration thrives when it is active and involving - when it elicits the energies and interests of people,” he told the BBC.

“Above all, it means embracing the idea of living memorials which chart not only the wars cost in lives, but that also explore consequences and legacies.”

Together with the All Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group, and support from the In From The Cold Project the commission have mapped more than 300,000 commemorations in every Parliamentary constituency in the UK.

Colin Kerr, the commission’s Finance Director, said that he hoped the campaign would make youngsters understand the significance of the sacrifices made.

“The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s work overseas is well known, but here in the United Kingdom there is little awareness of the graves to be found in a staggering 13,000 locations, that commemorate over 300,000 Commonwealth dead of the two world wars,” he said.

The commission is going to hold a number of events worldwide next year as part of a campaign and plans to have information panels at the certain commemorations with smartphone users able to access personal stories of a selection of those buried at the specific sites.

“The concept of a living memorial is by no means without precedent, but ours is an age peculiarly well-equipped to develop the idea in exciting and innovative ways. For ours is the digital age, the era of the virtual world.

“This is the challenge of war commemoration as the global conflicts of the 20th Century drift further into the past. It is not the challenge for the Lost Generation of 1918, nor for the Greatest Generation of 1945 - their work is done. This is the challenge for the future, for our generation.”

Image courtesy of R-P-M via Flickr, with thanks.

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