Many people I speak to are unaware of the National Memorial Arboretum. This is probably due to its being created only recently.
|A tree commemorating a soldier|
It was the brainchild of David Childs, who during a visit to Arlington Cemetery in the States was inspired to institute something similar in the UK.
From the outset, unlike Arlington, it was not going to be a cemetery, it was intended to be a place to celebrate and remember the lives of people with the planting of living trees so creating an oasis of peace, joy, hope and tranquillity.
Also, it was felt all those who served our country in the many different ways, should be appropriately recognized and honoured. The aim of “..this living memorial is to offer families and friends of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country a green and pleasant land to remember their loved ones.”
|An Army Memorial|
The Arboretum was to include everyone from all over the UK with no caveats. In order for people to feel the place belonged to them all pertinent groups and organizations have been encouraged to participate.
The Remembrance Centre provides information. There is space for exhibitions, a restaurant as well as a cafe and delightful outdoor spaces, “Heroes Square” and “The Boyes Garden”, where views of the arboretum can be admired whilst having refreshments. And of course there is a shop.
Also to be found in the Centre is The Millennium Chapel of Peace and Forgiveness. This was created to offer all peoples of whatever faith or persuasion a place of calmness, peace and serenity. Every day at 11am An Act of Remembrance is held in the Chapel.
There is a charge for the Remembrance Centre. However, it is free to sit in “Heroes Square”, visit the shop, cafe and chapel and to wander around the grounds. Throughout the year a range of events are held both in the Remembrance Centre and the grounds. Details can be found online at http://www.thenma.org.uk/events-and-news/forthcoming-events/
|WW2 Polish Forces Memorial|
The Arboretum covers 150acres and more than 50 000 trees have been planted. The Armed Forces Memorial is by far the largest and commemorates all those who, since WWII, have been killed whilst on duty or due to terrorist acts.
However, there are over 330 other memorials honouring both military and civilian organizations. One of the newest additions is the RoadPeace Memorial dedicated to all those killed on our roads.