Second Year Students on the History and Theology courses at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) visited the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) as a part of their modules which explore the historical and theological dimensions of war and commemoration.

Both modules ask students to reflect on key questions of who remembers, when, where and how, making the NMA, with its 150 acres and over 300 living and man-made memorials, an ideal location to visit.

Whilst the students were able to experience a wide variety of different memorials including the Armed Forces Memorial where all those who have lost their lives in service post-1945 are named.

Rebecca Newton, a single honours History student, described how seeing this memorial in particular, in the light of the centenary of Armistice, proved a thought provoking and emotional experience for many of the students:

“The visit to the National Memorial Arboretum was one of the most emotional and thought provoking trips I have been on with BGU.

“It highlighted the significance of the service and sacrifice of all who have lost their lives to war and, on the run up to Armistice this year, this is something I feel should be remembered.

“One of the most emotional parts of this visit was the Armed Forces Memorial, more specifically the blank walls ready for more names to be engraved of those who have died in recent conflicts and conflicts yet to come, emphasizing that the cost of freedom is high and despite the immense amount of life already lost, we are still paying the price.”

Forming part of the History and Theology courses, both modules encourage students to consider the dynamics of history, religion and politics, and the interplay of these with memory.

Through research-led teaching, students explore individual and state responses to remembering during both world wars, associated invented traditions such as the poppy and fields of remembrance, public rituals and the role of symbolism in the creation of national culture and religious identity.

The module in particular aims to bust some of the many myths around the First World War that are at present reinforced by popular culture.

If you would be interested in joining these discussions visit our website or contact our Enquiries Team for more information on our wide range of courses including BA degrees in  History and Theology, our MA in Social & Cultural History and our new BA (Hons) in Military History.

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Reader, History, School of Humanities Dr Robert von Friedeburg is Reader in History in the School of Humanities, focusing on......

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