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What do 'Lest We Forget' and 'Roll of Honour' mean?

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Published 02/11/2020
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by Richard Howlett
There are many occasions in everyday life when we hear widely accepted phrases without ever really questioning their meaning, and, as we move closer to Remembrance Day, there are some phrases that are worth looking into in order to fully understand their usage.

Where does ‘Lest we Forget’ come from?

The phrase ‘lest we forget’ comes from a poem by Rudyard Kipling called ‘Recessional’, which was first published in The Times in 1897. The poem is written in the style of a Christian hymn, and the phrase ‘lest we forget’ is taken from the Bible itself in which it says

“Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen”
Deuteronomy 4:9

In an article from The Mirror, they say that the poem is thought to represent the transient nature of the British Empire, and how nothing lasts forever. It is not a poem about war as such, but it reflects the universal sadness after World War I. Read the full poem and article here.

Why is ‘Lest we Forget’ used for Remembrance Day?

The phrase passed over into common usage in the UK after the First World War, and is especially associated with Remembrance Day and Anzac Day (Australia and New Zealand’s equivalent of our Remembrance Day). These days are used to commemorate those who served and died for their country in war, and ‘lest we forget’ is a promise to not forget these past sacrifices.

You will often find the words’ Lest we Forget’ engraved on war memorials, and even used in memorial notices printed in the newspaper. If you want to remember a loved one or family member that served or even died in the war, then placing a Lest We Forget’ notice in a newspaper or online is a great way of doing that. To place your own notice, click here and select ‘Lest We Forget’ from the list of classifications.

What is the meaning of ‘Roll of Honour’?

The Collins Dictionary defines ‘roll of honour’ as being “a list of the names of people who are admired or respected for something they have done, such as doing very well in a sport or exam.” However, when talking about a Roll of Honour in the context of Remembrance Day, it is a list of names of those who fought for their country in service during the war. You will often find a roll of honour at local war memorials, where you will usually see an engraved list of names of those from the local area who died during the war.

Here at we have our own Roll of Honour that we hope over time will become a place where people can honour and pay tribute to the memories of friends and loved ones who have died in battle.

To browse all the names currently on our Roll of Honour visit here.

To enter a loved ones name into our Roll of Honour, click here and select ‘Roll of Honour’ from the list of classifications.

To learn more about how you can pay tribute on Remembrance Day in 2020, read our Remembrance Day blog.
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