November. Month of fireworks, switching on central heating and the first Christmas adverts. But also the month of Remembrance. Although the act of Remembrance is officially observed on two dates (Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, on the 11th and the second Sunday of November respectively), the launch of the Royal British Legions Poppy appeal in late October through to the official ceremonies in November create a season of Remembrance. Of course, Remembrance is not limited to one month a year nor is it simply wearing a poppy or attending a ceremony. Its a personal act of reflection that can take place any time and in a number of ways. I love the idea of Remembrance through the medium of travel. Visiting historic sites or taking a moment to pause at a memorial keeps alive the memory of such places and the stories of the people who have endured. Makes history current. My passion for history was sparked by a school visit to WW1 battlefields, and I’ve been seeking out the places and the stories ever since. Not everyone has my level of
geekiness interest, but these are my ideas on including something of Remembrance into your travels.
Pause at Memorials to the Fallen in Service…
From the grand and imposing to the understated and discreet, war memorials can be found everywhere. Some cover more than one conflict, but due to the sheer scale of loss the most frequently found are those relating to WW1 and WW2. Some memorials began life as a monument to the fallen and have gone on to become symbols of peace, like the Naval Memorial in Laboe.
We discovered this memorial near us shortly after we had been watching the three part series Generation War. Looking at the statue and the names listed, many of whom died fighting in Russia, it did strike me that these were the real lives behind the story. These men were Friedhelm and Wilhelm. If you havent seen Generation War then beg, steal, borrow or buy a copy. Because A) Its brilliant and B) This will then make sense to you.
…And Memorials to Civilian Loss.
It may be a Memorial to loss of life in bombardment or as a result of persecution. It might be a small local memorial or something on a larger scale, like the Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. A stone memorial or an alternative symbol, such as the Eternal Flame of the National Monument of Solidarity in Luxembourg. Memorials to people caught up in something beyond their control, people like you and I.
Look Down for the Solpersteine.
Based on the Talmud saying that, ” A person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten”, the stolpersteine project by artist Gunter Demnig remembers both victims and survivors of the Holocaust by laying small plaques at the last address the person named freely chose to live at. The emphasis is on remembering individuals hence one stone, one name. Stoplersteine can be found in many countries across Europe, and if you look you will come across them in the most surprising places.
Visit the places where history was made.
Make A Journey of Remembrance.
Remembrance Travel is the travel arm of the British Legion and can organise ‘pilgrimages and tours to battlefields, war cemeteries and memorials’. Each tour is accompanied by an experienced guide who will not only educate and inform, but also help travellers rediscover and remember the bravery and sacrifice made by the Armed Forces. Tours can be chosen from a schedule or, in some circumstances, tailor made. Worth noting that veterans and D-Day veterans and war widows/widowers who lost a spouse in overseas service may be eligible for funding to help with the cost of a Remembrance journey. Further information can be found at Remembrance Travel.
If you are interested in finding a memorial or place of interest near you, or in a place you plan to visit, the website Traces of War is a great resource.
Until next Time,