Remembrance 2020: Visions for Peace and Health

2020 Vision: Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health, built as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of WW1.

Remembrance Weekend 2020, and 11.11 next Wednesday (11th November) – marking 102 years since the 1918 Armistice that ended World War One – will have a very different feel nationwide this year, as Wales’ communities steer carefully amidst the COVID pandemic, and staggered lockdown arrangements across Wales and England.

Most people are encouraged to stand outside their homes for 2 minutes at 11am on November 8th, to mark 2 minutes silence. For the first time, people will be able to join Wales’ National Service of Remembrance in Cathays Park from the safety of home, through Cardiff Council’s Youtube Channel. And communities Wales-wide are remembering the fallen in different ways.

In a cruel nod from history, parallels are stark between this year’s COVID context, and the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic that followed WW1 – which ravaged Wales population from 1918-20, killing 11,400 in Wales, 228k across the UK, and 50-100m globally (even more than the ‘Great War’ itself). Soldiers who had survived the trenches, fell to outbreaks within demobilisation camps, or succumbed having brought the virus home; compounded tragedies that make 2020’s Remembrance Day particularly poignant.

David Davies of Llandinam

It was this sense of double tragedy that inspired the vision of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Health as the nation’s memorial to the fallen of World War One. Founder David Davies, who had served in the trenches of World War 1, advocated a monument that would bring together the people of Wales in a collective mission to pursue peace and health for future generations – a mission continued to this day by WCIA and partners.

At the heart of the Temple of Peace sits one of Wales’ national treasures: a Crypt housing Wales’ WW1 Book of Remembrance. The beautiful, Moroccan leather bound volume with 1,100 pages of vellum parchment, contains a rollcall of 35-40,000 names of the fallen:

WW1 Book of Remembrance Cover
Cover of the WW1 Book of Remembrance

“the men and women of Welsh birth and parentage, and all the men belonging to the regiments of Wales, who gave their lives in the war 1914-1918.”

Cover inscription of the WW1 Book of Remembrance, Temple of Peace Archives

Although for 2020 WCIA are unable to offer our popular Temple Tours (due to the COVID shutdown), we have created – with the support of the National Library of Wales, People’s Collection Wales and National Museums of Wales – a range of online resources that enable people Wales-wide to explore the Book of Remembrance and the story of the Temple of Peace for Remembrance Day from the comfort of your home, computer, tablet or phone.

The easily remembered homepage for the digitised WW1 Book of Remembrance is:

BookofRemembrance.Wales – LlyfryCofio.Cymru

Wales WW1 Book of Remembrance,
on exhibition in 2016 at the Royal
Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle.

Wales’ survivors of WW1 had a vision to overcome the conflicts and ailments that had torn a generation of young men and women from their families and communities – a vision for peace and health for future generations, enshrined in a national memorial that would go on to support the founding of the United Nations and the National Health Service.

As we pause to reflect through Remembrance Weekend this year, it falls to every one of us to reflect on how we ‘use’ remembrance: how we channel our energies towards building peace and health for our current and future generations – to 2020 Vision.

Explore WCIA’s digitised Remembrance resources below.