Stockton North’s Labour MP has urged schools and residents across the Borough to visit local Commonwealth war graves to gain a greater understanding of the scale and magnitude of the Great War and the impact that it has had on today’s society.
The call follows a national initiative spearheaded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the All-Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group and the In From The Cold project that maps over 300,000 Commonwealth war dead. And Alex Cunningham will be supporting the initiative by visiting some of the 75 WWI Commonwealth war graves in Stockton North during the summer, accompanied by CWGC representatives.
The CWGC is currently working with schools to bring this extraordinary period of history alive for students, and in May will launch a Local War Graves Visits programme in six locations with the view to extend this to other parts of the UK later in the year.
And the CWGC launched an online Virtual Cemetery education portal at the Education Show in mid-March, providing a comprehensive range of resources and support materials linked to the graves and memorials in their home town and enabling pupils and teachers to learn about the Commission’s work across the globe.
“The Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is a time not just for reflection and commemoration, but also an opportunity to educate a new generation of young people about the extraordinary events of a hundred years ago and to bring to life some of the personal stories from this remarkable time.
“Working with local groups and students gives us all an opportunity to explore how we would like to secure this legacy for generations to come, and visiting the graves of the fallen is a simple but profoundly important way to commemorate the outbreak of the war.”
Deirdre Mills, CWGC’s Director of UK Area, said: “The Centenary is an opportune time for us to re-engage and connect with local communities and young people, and explain how the people who are buried in our graves got to be there, who they were, and where they were from. More than 300,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women are commemorated in the UK. Many died in military hospitals whilst being treated for their wounds or fell victim to the flu pandemic as the conflict drew to a close. Their graves reflect both the local impact of the war but also its wider historical significance.”