A Commemoration – World War I Centenary: establish your Field of Remembrance

Issue: Volume 93, Number 21

Posted: 24 November 2014
Reference #: 1H9csC

"No greater love has any man than he lay down his life for his country."

Not long before World War I, New Zealand boys and girls learned, played, and laughed in schools just as they do today. However, within a few short years, many were on the battlefields of World War I. Though some aspects of school today are different, the lives of those boys and girls were just as full of hope and potential.

Field of Remembrance at Parliament Grounds, Wellington, August 2014.

For 18,200 school boys and girls, their hope and potential was gone forever when they were killed in World War I.

The future of another 41,000 lives was severely limited when they came back injured and maimed.

In total 103,000 New Zealanders, including nurses, served in World War I. It is a sacrifice that can never be repaid, yet it can be remembered and understood by future generations.

The Field of Remembrance in schools project

So that young New Zealanders have the opportunity to honour, value and learn about the service and sacrifice of so many New Zealanders during World War I, the Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Ministry of Education are partnering to support all schools to set up their own Fields of Remembrance in time for Anzac Day 2015.

The Trust has worked with many generous sponsors to enable all New Zealand schools to be involved in this event by providing over 80,000 white crosses and 12,500 posters.

During March 2015, each school will be given 30 white crosses to commemorate the men and women who died for New Zealand. Each cross will be named to include local solders, nurses, New Zealand Victoria Cross recipients, the youngest New Zealander who died (aged 17), an All Black captain, and one with the words “Known only to God” to represent the unknown soldier.

Dame Trelise Cooper urges teachers to take students on a journey

Dame Trelise Cooper strongly believes in the power of teachers to engage children in the sacrifice made during World War I.

“Teachers can take children on a journey of learning by telling stories. If you start with the crosses and the inspiring stories of the war, the children will engage.

“Every New Zealander has a connection with World War I – even if they don’t yet know it. I recently discovered my uncle served in World War II, his father served in World War I, and again in World War II, alongside his son!

“The Fields of Remembrance are about making World War I contemporary and relevant so that there’s a connection for people.

“This isn’t about glorification of war. It’s about commemoration, and the Fields of Remembrance is a wonderful way for us to do this as a nation.”

RSAs – havens for those who served

Somewhere in New Zealand sit thousands of medals of World War I soldiers that were never collected by the soldiers who earned them.

Graham Gibson, Fields of Remembrance Trust vice chairman and president of the Auckland RSA, says many soldiers just wanted to forget. For many, that meant not bothering to apply for their medals.

“A lot came home off the ship and returned to work immediately – and they didn’t talk about the war.”

However, there was at least one place where veterans felt safe to share – the local RSA. At the RSA, everyone understood.

The first RSAs were established during World War I, and their numbers increased rapidly after the war. Today there are 180.

Graham is heartened by the significant increase in numbers coming out to attend Anzac Day services.

“It’s the teens and the little ones that are now coming. If they learn about the war, our children have a better understanding of who we are as a nation.”

Acknowledging women and the home front

As the first female patron of the Auckland RSA, Dame Trelise Cooper says it’s important to acknowledge the hard work of the women who held the home front together.

“The women were the mothers AND the fathers while the men were away. They kept everything going. They took on men’s roles in factories to allow important services like food and munitions production to continue for the war effort. It’s also important to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of our women who served overseas.”

Company wants to put World War I in front of our younger generation

Fields of Remembrance sponsor Dean Hodgson knows at least one thing that’s guaranteed to get his daughter out of bed – Anzac Day dawn services.

“My daughter has been to Anzac Day services three years running now. All my children want to know about the war,” says Dean.

Dean is hoping that the Fields of Remembrance will inspire a similar response from every child across the country over the next four years and beyond.

“As time goes on, it’s harder for people to comprehend what happened during the war. This country is built on the efforts of the men who fought. We want this to get in front of the younger generation,” says Dean.

Dean is the finance director for PSP Limited, the company that supplies the material for the white crosses. PSP distributes plastic sheeting, translucent roofing and building products, so producing more than 80,000 white crosses is a little different for them. However, Dean says it is an honour and privilege for their company to be a part of such a significant occasion.

“Donating our time and products is a small price. The Great War was where we first stood together as a nation. Learning about it gives children a better understanding of who we are and what this means.”

It will take two men eight days working full-time to make the crosses and another two weeks to drill the nails to the base of the crosses so they can be placed in the ground in remembrance of those that fought for our nation.

Putting the names of our fallen in print

When the Fields of Remembrance Trust asks you to support a project that sees hundreds of thousands of New Zealand school children honouring the service and sacrifice of previous generations – it’s hard to say no.

That was the experience of Garth Hulsdouw of Digital Factory, the New Lynn company that’s donating the printing of thousands of names and poppy stickers, that will go on the white crosses. Garth says the Fields of Remembrance project is something the family-owned company has easily got behind.

“It’s great that the Fields of Remembrance are going to be in schools. It’s keeping the commemoration alive for our younger generation – and I know my six year old daughter has been thoroughly interested,” Garth says.

The involvement in this project has been partly personal for this father-son owned and operated business.

“My great-grandfather served in both World War I and II,” Garth told us with pride.

It will take Digital Factory two months to print all the names and poppy stickers, then laminate and cut them into singles so schools can attach them to each cross.

The Fields of Remembrance Trust – supporting all New Zealanders to commemorate

David McGregor, chairman of the Fields of Remembrance Trust, says that presently more than 80 communities throughout the country have established fields.

“They will continue to be set up during the four years of the commemorations, and beyond, to coincide with the various battles in which New Zealanders participated.”

“The opportunity to establish a Field of Remembrance in every school throughout the country is an exciting and rewarding one, made possible by the generous sponsorship of all the materials and production.”

“A Field of Remembrance is the most poignant expression of the service and sacrifice of New Zealanders 100 years ago,” David says.

If schools would rather not participate in the Fields of Remembrance project, and do not want to receive the Remembrance crosses and posters, they should email fieldsof.remembrance@education.govt.nz and provide the name of the school.

The Fields of Remembrance Trust has been established to honour those who served and fought for our nation during World War I. The Trust will support communities to establish Fields of Remembrance throughout New Zealand and to learn, value and retain this part of our nation’s history.

The Trust is made up of the Passchendaele Society, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association New Zealand (RSA) which represents all the local RSAs, and the Auckland RSA.

Further information and resources about World War I and Fields of Remembrance

27 Nov ‘14 1–28 Feb ‘15 1–31 March ’15 20–April ‘15 4–8 May ‘15

Start learning about the men and women who served and made the ultimate sacrifice...
Names of 29 men and women from your region, who served and died in WWI, will be uploaded on our dedicated Ministry webpage.

Production of the Fields of Remembrance packages begins...
Over 80,000 crosses, 75,000 stickers with names, 2,531 poppies, plaques, guide booklets, and 12,500 commemoration posters will be created so that all young New Zealanders will have the opportunity to honour the service and sacrifice made 100 years ago.

Fields of Remembrance packages are hand delivered to all participating schools and kura.

School Fields of Remembrance are laid...
Ceremonies and commemoration events are held for Anzac Day 2015.

School Fields of Remembrance are uplifted...
Guidance on the laying and uplifting of the Fields will be provided by the Fields of Remembrance Trust.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:50 am, 24 November 2014

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