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Remembrance and its Importance to the Hong Kong Community


In Flanders Fields In Flanders Fields is possibly the most famous war poem of the twentieth century. Written by Canadian soldier Major John McCrae in 1915, the poem talks about how the poppy was the first living thing to bloom on the battlefields at Flanders, Belgium, after the First World War. The poem is read by millions of people around the world each year during Remembrance, and as a result, the red poppy has come to symbolise both the bloodshed by brave soldiers in wars across the world, and the importance of peace as a means of maintaining life and liberty. In Flanders Fields Major John McCrae In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.


What is Remembrance? Remembrance is a memorial day held in many countries across the world, that commemorates the brave sacrifices made by members of Armed Forces servicemen and women in the field of battle. It has existed since the end of the First World War, and is observed annually, on 11 th November at 11 . 0 0 a m ; t h e s a m e t i m e t h a t , in 1918, the armistice between Germany and the Entente was signed, which effectively marked the end of the Great War. Initially, Remembrance Day was only observed to commemorate


those who died during the First World War. However, it has come to encompass all wars, and remind us all that all while all life is incredibly valuable, some people put theirs on the line so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms and liberties we have every day. Thus, Remembrance Day is an expression of gratitude to all servicemen and women, regardless of rank, service, ethnicity, gender or allegiance, and a reminder that peace on earth is the ultimate goal of humanity.

In Hong Kong, Remembrance is usually commemorated by a multifaith memorial service at the Cenotaph in Central, organised by various government officials and representatives from various religions. The commemoration follows the traditional format of a Remembrance Day service, with the sounding of Last Post, two minutes of silence, the sounding of Reveille, the laying of wreaths, prayers, and a recitation of Ode of Remembrance. The service is open toeveryone, and is held on the weekend of Remembrance – this year, on Sunday 13th November at 10.30am – with a smart dress code. Remembrance may be commemorated in a variety of ways, however. In 2014, an art installation was formed outside the Tower of London in England, called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, to commemorate a century after the start of the First World War. It comprised of 888,246 ceramic red poppies; one for each British or counties’ serviceman killed in the line of duty. The display was highly successful, and raised over HKD 140million for a variety of service charities.


Harrow International School Hong Kong and Remembrance Harrow International School Hong Kong firmly believes that the commemoration of Remembrance is important not only to understanding the bravery of those who have paved the way for our futures through their service, and in many cases, sacrifice, but also in spreading the message of peace and ensuring that such sacrifices do not have to be made in future. In-keeping with tradition among many schools in Britain, Harrow Hong Kong ran its own 'poppy appeal' – a sale of paper poppies that are worn on the lapels of all students and staff – in 2014. The School has also attended the service at the Cenotaph, laying its own wreath in honour of the fallen. This year, however, the School has sought to make its commemoration more interactive, to engage students with the reasons why we observe Remembrance. Inspired by Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the School's boarding students made poppies using everyday materials, which will be displayed on Monday 14 th November on the School site. Crucially, there are 644 poppies in the display; one for each Harrovian (a student, or former student, at Harrow School) who died during the First World War. Inspired by Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the School's boarding students made poppies using everyday materials, which will be displayed on Monday 14th November on the School site. Crucially, there are 644 poppies in the display; one for each Harrovian (a student, or former student, at Harrow School) who died during the First World War.




Remembrance and the local community Harrow Hong Kong's commitment to commemorating fallen servicemen is in-part related to its ties to Britain, but the meaning of Remembrance is just as important across Hong Kong, which is why we want to spread the message of peace across the local community, and encourage all of the schools in Tuen Mun to unite and observe the memorial. Tuen Mun is rich in its military history. The school sits on part of Perowne Camp, which was a base for the Gurkha Engineers between 1931 and 1994. The Gurkhas were primarily Nepalese soldiers who protected Hong Kong during the 1960s, and there is now a large Nepalese community living here. A large part of Perowne Camp is now being used by the Crossroads Foundation, and visitors can still find some gurkha tombs, and a gurkha temple, inside the Crossroads site now. Further, while Hong Kong was not a battleground that was repeatedly contested during recent wars, we as a community may be too quick to forget the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, in which nearly 7000 people, both soldiers and civilians, died. Sometimes we are too quick to forget the sacrifices many people have made along the way to us enjoying the freedoms we do, and so Remembrance is a small but crucial reminder that we should be thankful for, but also wary of, the cost of war and what it seeks to achieve.


Getting involved So, how can you get involved and help contribute to continuing these messages of remembrance and peace? You can engage yourselves and your students with the concept of Remembrance, following two main notions. First, commemorating the dedication and selflessness of many military service people so that we can live a better life; and second, maintaining a situation of peace by reminding ourselves of the painful price many servicemen and women have to pay in order for us to have the lives we do. Remembrance Day is held each year, generally on the weekend closest to the 11th November, but helping out with some of the services charities in Hong Kong can happen all year round. Many ex-servicemen and women who have served for us in a variety of capacities, from front line soldiers to medics, often struggle because their time dedication to the military has meant they may be hindered in finding or keeping a paid job. Further, some veterans may still suffer from injuries or other disadvantages from their time in the services, and many of the major charities in Hong Kong are looking for part-time volunteers to help them.


Of course, just as these charities need assistance and support, they also need to be able to fund such services. One way of collecting donations is through holding a poppy appeal; selling paper poppies collected from the Royal British Legion in Hong Kong within school, to students and members of staff. This is symbolically significant, but also provides a great way to raise money for and awareness of Remembrance. Further, inside the information pack from the Royal British Legion is a donation form which you can fill out. Of course, though, there are plenty of other charities which are also deserving of your support, such as the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen's Association. Finally, all we need is a bit of enthusiasm! It would be great if you could attend the service at the Cenotaph in the future, and join hands as a community of schools in the Hong Kong Community, be it this year, next year, or many years in the future. All we ask is that you consider raising awareness among your students about Remembrance and its significance in Hong Kong.


Harrow International School Hong Kong 38 Tsing Ying Road, Tuen Mun New Territories, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2824 9099 Fax: +852 2824 9928

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