“Remember together”: A divided UK seeks unity on Remembrance Sunday

Not forgotten.
Not forgotten.
Image: REUTERS/Toby Melville
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Ahead of a general election that has the UK more divided than ever, an initiative of the Royal British Legion and the think tank British Future seeks to encourage everyone to “remember together” those who sacrificed their lives during World War II.

Throughout the year, the campaign has put on events encouraging people from all backgrounds to commemorate major events such as D-Day, Monte Cassino in Italy, the blockade of Berlin, and the battles of Kohima and Imphal in India.

On Nov. 9, the Royal British Legion hosted the Festival of Remembrance at Royal Albert Hall in London. Today’s “Remembrance Sunday” is the main event, with up to 10,000 service members or bereaved spouses or descendants marching past the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall, site of the National Service of Remembrance.

British Future aims to “involve people in an open conversation” about hot-button issues like integration, immigration, and identity in Britain. These themes were present across remembrance events this year, which celebrated soldiers from allied nations and Commonwealth countries who fought for Britain in WWII.

The ceremonies made the case that the legacy of the war continues to shape Britain today. “The collaboration of Britain with our Commonwealth friends and Allied nations in 1944 continues to shape our society today,” says the campaign’s website. “Many communities, whose ancestors served side by side, now live side by side in a multicultural Britain.”

This plea for unity and multiculturalism is significant given the current political climate in the UK. Britons are more divided than ever over Brexit, and the upcoming general election on Dec. 12 appears to be worsening this divide.