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Community / First war graves week invites people to learn about the past

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PEOPLE are being encouraged to learn more about the individuals who died in the two World Wars as part of a national war graves awareness week.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) first awareness week takes place from today (Friday) through to 28 May.

History teacher and local CWGC volunteer Jon Sandison said: “We’re very pleased to take part in the CWGC’s first ever War Graves Week.

“We are very much looking forward to spending time at Lerwick, CWGC Cemetery. This is a great initiative.

“Some may be surprised by the extent to which the CWGC has had a continued role within our community.

“There are so many sites locally which demonstrate how war impacted on our islands, both in terms of those who were serving here during both World War One and Two, as well as those who had been based elsewhere, and came home.

“These links are so important to our community and the opportunity to encourage discussion and meaningful reflection on them is really important.”

The CWGC has launched a special postcode search function for its online war dead database, presenting an opportunity for people of all ages to welcome the memory of these men and women back to the streets where they lived.

The postcode search contains the records for more than 400,000 World War personnel, whose CWGC war dead record includes a publicly listed address in the UK.

From 17 May homeowners across the country will receive First World War postcards through their letter boxes as part of War Graves Week activities.

The postcards feature stories of 24 casualties, all of whom are buried or commemorated in the local areas where they once lived. They have been carefully chosen so that local residents can visit their graves for War Graves Week.

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CWGC director general Claire Horton said: “Remembrance Day and anniversaries will always have a place in our work, but War Graves Week is an opportunity for communities to connect with their local heritage in a different way; when the days are longer, when the plants are in bloom, and our cemeteries can be seen in a completely different light.

“We want people to see that work in action and make a local discovery. Many people already know about their family’s links to the World Wars, but all of us have somewhere we call home today, and those places have their own stories too.

“By simply entering your postcode on our website you can take the first step towards making a new connection We want people to share the stories they find and download a tribute for the men and women from their communities and display it in their window for War Graves Week.

“Behind every name on a war grave or memorial is a human story, just waiting to be discovered and War Graves Week is the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

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