Poppies - the recognised symbol of remembrance
On Friday 11th November at 11 am, the College community commemorated Remembrance Day following the Armistice at the end of World War 1. Members of the Student Union delivered two short readings and a bugler from the music department added a solemn note to this time of reflection, which culminated in a two minute silence. The event had special significance for many of our students with family members in the armed forces. Our College is also proud to include many members of the Nepalese community amongst our staff and students and there were also Remembrance Day celebrations in Aldershot honouring the sacrifices made by the Gurkhas in World War I. The main focal point for these celebrations was the statue of the Nepalese war hero Havildar Kulbir Thapa VC, which was erected last year.
Remembrance Day also coincided with another important event for our students of Polish descent, as 11th November is also Polish Independence Day.
Magda Jaruchowska, the Student Union’s Equality and Diversity officer, explains why 11th November is such an important date for her and describes her memories of celebrating this day as she was growing up in Poland:
‘After 123 years of not being on the map, Poland regained its independence on the 11th November 1918 as the First World War ended. Every year, on 11th November, we have a bank holiday and we celebrate this special day. Most people hang Polish flags outside their houses and apartments. For Polish scouts, there usually is a whole day event planned and for me, this day is particularly special as my scout team was celebrating our birthday on that day as well (it was created on 11th November 2005). As part of those celebrations we would firstly meet the whole scout troop of Sopot and go on a history-themed treasure hunt around the city , then join the Independence Parade (usually held in bigger cities) and in the evening we would go to a church for Mass. Towards the end of night we would gather together by candle light and have a sleepover as a scout group. Some scouts would play their guitars and we would sing together until dawn. We also played scout games. We always had cake and got a small gift to remember this amazing day’.
Remembrance Day is a time for reflection for many members of our College community, whose histories and cultural identities intersect on this day, and our understanding of these is enriched by listening to each other’s stories.