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War memorials and commemoration
War memorials and commemoration

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2 The need to commemorate

The subject of memorial is a good one. People often have a powerful need to commemorate those who have died. They may have lost someone close to them, or they may be thinking about loss of life in disaster, or war. You may well recognise that feeling. Such memorials take different forms, from flowers left at a particular spot, to public triumphal arches and works of art dedicated to the memory of specific individuals. But to begin, we want to focus on a particular form of remembrance – war memorials.

I would like you first of all to look at Illustration A. I don't think that you will have difficulty in deciding what Illustration A is – a war memorial. Please stop at this point and answer the question in Exercise 2.

Illustration A Woburn, Bedfordshire, Mike Levers/The Open University

Exercise 2

Is there a war memorial in your locality? Do you know where it is?


Of course, I do not know what your answer is. But I would be surprised if there were not a war memorial somewhere near you. Did you have to think where it was? Perhaps you knew at once: you may pass one regularly, or you may visit it. Or perhaps you had to spend time thinking. If you can go and look at the memorial nearest to you (or, for that matter, a war memorial anywhere) so that you can immediately recall its location and shape, you will increase your understanding and awareness of many of the points made in this course. But if it is impossible for you to do that, and you are not sufficiently familiar with a war memorial to keep the image of it in your mind, please use Illustration A when I ask questions about ‘your’ memorial.