Ethos Education

War Horse: Made for Better Things (Remembrance Day)

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Assembly Objective: 

  • Why do we remember wars? This assembly explores the Bible’s teaching about men and women of all nations being called to live as brothers and sisters under God.

Film:

  • War Horse (Dreamworks 2012, certificate 12) click here to buy the DVD online.

Bible:

Supporting Values Education:

  • The value of Individual Liberty affirms each person’s right to self-determination, but the values of Democracy, Respect and Tolerance call us to live as part of a community. This assembly encourages pupils to consider how this community extends to all people in all nations.

OPENING ACTIVITY

Christmas Day Truce (something to think about)

Download the Remembrance Christmas Day Truce PowerPoint with this presentation.

  • Play the Remembrance Christmas Day Truce PowerPoint with a suitable accompanying soundtrack. We suggest All Together Now by The Farm, a song about the Christmas Day truce of 1914. All Together Now is available on the album All Together Now: The Very Best of The Farm (Music Club Deluxe, 2009) click here to buy the CD online. If you are unable to use this track, you could replace it with an appropriate alternative of your own. The PowerPoint is set up to automatically transition between slides once started. If you want to move through the slides at a faster pace, simply click on your mouse to move on. Stop the PowerPoint once it reaches the photo credits after approximately two minutes.
  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • December 1914. The world is at war.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • The First World War was the most brutal conflict the world had seen.
    • Over nine million combatants were killed in the space of four years.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • In Ypres, Belgium, on Christmas Eve one of the defining incidents of the war took place.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • The Germans decorated their trenches with Christmas trees and lit candles. They started singing carols.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • British and French troops responded with their own carol singing.
    • Greetings were shouted across no-man’s land, closely followed by tentative excursions out of the trenches.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • Presents were exchanged, cigarettes were shared and even an impromptu game of football was started. Germany won 3-2.
    • Hours later, war resumed and the men returned to trying to kill one another.
  • [PowerPoint slide 7]
    • High ranking officers took a dim view of the unofficial truce, and stamped down on any future fraternisation with the enemy.
    • Reports suggest that some who took part subsequently found it difficult to open fire on the men they had shared Christmas with.
  • [PowerPoint slide 8]
    • [‘Lest we forget’ war memorial image].

War Facts (quiz)

Download the War Facts PowerPoint with this activity.

  • Ask the following questions. If students are reluctant to participate, the quiz will work perfectly well as a presentation, without anybody offering answers.
  • [PowerPoint slide 1] What percentage of British servicemen were killed in World War 1? ([click] 35.8% – 908,000 killed out of a total of 8.9 million servicemen. These figures include troops from across the British Empire. See http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/world-war-i-centenary-ww1-numbers-1459387).
  • [PowerPoint slide 2] What percentage of Russian males born in 1923 were no longer alive in 1945 at the end of World War 2? ([click] 80%. See www.world-war-2.info/facts/).
  • [PowerPoint slide 3] What percentage of the total death count for World War 1 was military personnel, and what percentage civilian? ([click] 95% military, 5% civilian).
  • [PowerPoint slide 4] What percentage of the total death count for World War 2 was military personnel, and what percentage civilian ([click] 33% military, 67 % civilian. See www.world-war-2.info/statistics/).
  • Remind the students that in any war, there will be casualties – both military and civilian – and that at any given time there are as many as thirty separate wars taking place in the world. Whether or not we know anyone who is taking part in the war in the Middle East, war is a daily part of life for millions of people across the world.

FILM CLIP

  • Play the following clip from War Horse:
    • Start time:       1.51.09 (in chapter 23 of the DVD)
    • End time:        1.54.48
    • Clip length:     3 minutes 39 seconds
  • The clip starts with the two soldiers kneeling down to start cutting the wires that entangle Joey. The first line is the German soldier saying, ‘His blind spot’. It ends with the German (who we now know to be called Peter) saying, ‘Remarkable. A remarkable horse.’
  • The clip shows two soldiers, one English and one German meeting in no-man’s land and working together to free Joey, a horse trapped in barbed wire. While they are initially mistrustful of one another, by the end of the clip they have developed a friendly rapport and wish each other well.

TALK

Download the Remembrance War Horse PowerPoint with this talk.

  • PowerPoint slide 1
    • Throughout the world, there are many everyday household objects being used for purposes that they were never designed for. [click] Did you know that you can use banana peel to polish leather shoes or to remove ink stains from your fingers? [click] You can use a microwave to restore washing-up sponges that have started to get a bit smelly. [click] You can use toothpaste to repair chips in CDs and DVDs. [click] Some people even use iPhones – and you may not believe this – to make the occasional phone call.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • That may seem an unusual start to a talk about Remembrance Day. Every year at around this time we remember those who gave their lives in war. It’s a time for sombre reflection, so what has it got to do with banana shoe-shine and minty-fresh CDs?
    • Let’s watch a film clip and then I’ll explain where we’re going with this. The clip is from the film War Horse. It’s set in the First World War and Joey, the hero horse, is stuck in barbed wire in the middle of no-man’s land, right between the British and German trenches. Two soldiers, one English and one German, have come out into no-man’s land and are working together to free the horse.
    • Play the clip from War Horse:
      • Start time:       1.51.09 (in chapter 23 of the DVD)
      • End time:        1.54.48
      • Clip length:     3 minutes 39 seconds
    • The clip starts with the two soldiers kneeling down to start cutting the wires that entangle Joey. The first line is the German soldier saying, ‘His blind spot’. It ends with the German (who we now know to be called Peter) saying, ‘Remarkable. A remarkable horse.’
    • If you are unable to play the clip, say, ‘There’s a scene in the film War Horse where a British soldier and a German soldier work together to free a horse that is trapped by barbed wire in no-man’s land. Initially the two soldiers are wary of one another, but as they work they gain one another’s trust, and eventually each goes back to their own trenches on friendly terms.’
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • We started off by talking about things that are used in ways they were never intended for. Did you notice Colin’s comment about horses? He said this:
    • [click] They’re made for running, horses: running away from danger… yet we taught them the opposite.
    • Like most animals, a horse’s instinct is to run from danger. But Joey, like countless other horses pressed into service in the First World War, was trained to run towards danger. Horses aren’t meant to be instruments of war, but that’s what we trained them to be.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • Men and women aren’t meant to be instruments of war either, but over the years millions of people have lost their lives in war. Those men and women, like Joey the horse, weren’t made for conflict; they weren’t made for fighting in war. If the First World War taught the world one thing it’s that war isn’t glorious. It’s sometimes necessary, and sometimes in a good cause, but it’s a terrible thing. That isn’t to criticise those who take part in armed conflict, or to set aside their bravery and suggest it isn’t worthy of honour and respect. Far from it: the freedoms that we enjoy today are ours only because men and women from previous generations – your grandparents and great-grandparents, perhaps – were prepared to risk their lives in ghastly, bloody war. Their sacrifice deserves nothing but respect, and that’s why we remember it every year.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • But the point remains that like horses, men and women aren’t meant for war, and neither are nations. The two soldiers in the clip show us something of this. Their initial uncertainty with one another gave way to a mutual respect and even the beginnings of friendship, as they joked about the conditions in the trenches and so on while setting the horse free. They met as nameless enemies, but parted as individuals who had shared a common purpose. That connection made a difference to them, a difference that was summed up by Colin’s ambiguous comment that he doesn’t suppose he’ll ever manage to hit the target when shooting at the Germans. [If you used Opening Activity: Christmas Day Truce, you could remind students of that, referring them to reports that some of the soldiers who took part found a similar difficulty afterwards]. The kind of friendly interaction, of communication and growing trust, hints at there being something more that we are all made for.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The Bible says this:
      • At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honour the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. Jeremiah 3:17 New International Version.
    • And that’s the thing we need to remember most of all. [click] God calls all the nations, and men and women of all nations are brothers and sisters under God. War isn’t what we are made for. We need to remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have laid down their lives. If we’re serious about honouring their memory, we need to work together to make sure that sacrifices like theirs will one day be unnecessary.

Headings and Bullets

Download the Remembrance  War Horse PowerPoint with this talk.

  • [PowerPoint slide 1]
    • Household objects used for unexpected purposes:
      • [click] Banana peel to polish leather shoes, or remove ink stains from fingers.
      • [click] Microwave to restore smelly washing-up sponges.
      • [click] Toothpaste to repair chips in CDs and DVDs.
      • [click] Some people use iPhones to make phone calls.
  • [PowerPoint slide 2]
    • Unusual start for a talk on Remembrance Day.
      • A time of sombre reflection.
      • What’s it got to do with banana shoe-shine and minty-fresh CDs?
    • Introduce clip from War Horse:
      • World War 1.
      • Joey the horse is stuck in no-man’s land.
      • Two opposing soldiers work together to cut him free from barbed wire.
      • Play the clip.
  • [PowerPoint slide 3]
    • Recap: things used in ways that weren’t originally intended.
    • Remember Colin’s comment:
    • [click] They’re made for running, horses: running away from danger… yet we taught them the opposite.
    • Horse’s instinct is to run from danger, but Joey trained to run into it.
    • Horses aren’t meant to be instruments of war, but we trained them to be just that.
  • [PowerPoint slide 4]
    • People aren’t meant to be instruments of war, yet millions have lost their lives in war.
      • Those people weren’t made for conflict.
      • First World War taught us that war isn’t glorious.
      • War: sometimes necessary, sometimes in a good cause, but always terrible.
      • That’s not a criticism of those who take part.
      • Our freedoms were won by those who fought.
      • Their sacrifice deserves respect and remembrance.
  • [PowerPoint slide 5]
    • People aren’t meant for war and neither are nations.
      • Two soldiers in the clip show this.
      • Their uncertainty was replaced by friendly respect.
      • Nameless enemies became individuals with a common purpose.
      • Colin hints at not being able to shoot his ‘enemy’ any more [compare with Opening Activity: Christmas Day Truce, if used].
      • This kind of interaction hints at us being made for more than conflict.
  • [PowerPoint slide 6]
    • The Bible says this:
      • At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honour the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. Jeremiah 3:17 New International Version.
    • That’s what we need to remember most.
      • [click] God calls all the nations.
      • War isn’t what we’re made for.
      • To remember those who laid down their lives, we need to work together to make sacrifices like theirs unnecessary.

Photo Copyright for Remembrance Christmas Day Truce Assembly PowerPoint: Slides 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 iStockphoto.com / Slide 7 John Warwick Brooke / Slide 8 Agence Rol

Photo Copyright for Remembrance War Horse PowerPoint: Slide 1 Banana skin by Benutzer Priwo, Microwave by Malcolm Koo, phone and toothpaste iStockphoto.com / Slide 2 DreamWorks II Distribution co / Slide 3 DreamWorks II Distribution co / Slide 4 John Warwick Brooke / Slide 5 iStockphoto.com 


RESPOND

Prayer

  • Dear God, thank you for the men and women who have laid down their lives in wars through the years, people who have sacrificed their own lives and their own freedom so that others may enjoy theirs. Thank you as well that we are not made for war. Help each of us to live our lives in ways that honour their sacrifice, and which promote peace. Amen.

Reflection

  • Read the following extract from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, which was first published in The Times in 1914, and which is often featured in Remembrance Day services:
  • They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.
  • You can find the full poem at https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/For_the_Fallen

Time of Silence

  • You may want to include either one or two minutes of silence as part of this assembly. Explain to the students that this is a traditional way of giving people the opportunity to reflect upon the courage and sacrifice of those who have fought and died in wars. You might want to combine this with either the reflection or prayer above. If you wish to do this, we suggest using the reflection immediately before period of silence, and/or the prayer immediately afterwards.

YOU WILL NEED:

  1. War Horse (Dreamworks 2012, certificate 12) click here to buy the DVD online.
  2. A copy of the song All Together Now by The Farm (or a suitable alternative) if you are using Opening Activity: Christmas Day Truce.
  3. Remembrance Christmas Day Truce PowerPoint.
  4. War Facts PowerPoint.
  5. Remembrance War Horse PowerPoint.

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