As a child growing up in Melbourne, Australia (this is Arnold Roth writing), I thought I knew what we meant when twice each year, on Anzac Day and on Remembrance Day, we would solemnly recite and sign and write and in various ways render an archaic-sounding phrase that was put to use on those days only. Lest we forget.
I had a sense of what was meant, though never looked into its origin until thus morning. Those were simpler times, and it turns out that “Lest we forget” is part of the refrain of a poem, ”Recessional“, by Rudyard Kipling. It was composed for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and carries with it both religious and nationalistic notes. But then it became, as we would call it today, repurposed:
It introduces the reason for the entreaty expressed in the poem: that God might spare England from oblivion or profanity “lest we forget” the sacrifice of Christ (“Thine ancient sacrifice”).
The phrase later passed into common usage after World War I across the British Commonwealth especially, becoming linked with Remembrance Day observations; it came to be a plea not to forget past sacrifices, and was often found as the only wording on war memorials, or used as an epitaph [Wikipedia]
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one of the worst terrorist atrocities in Britain
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About the Author: Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at email@example.com .
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