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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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From Brokenness to Reconciliation (The Very Reverend John Witcombe)

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the very reverend john witcombe

The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral, discusses building a culture of peace and hope through the Community of the Cross of Nails that emerged from the wartime destruction of Coventry.

On 2 March 2018, writing about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s struggle over Brexit, Torcuil Crichton began his piece in the Scottish newspaper The Daily Record with the lines:

Every day at midday in the Basil Spence masterpiece of Coventry Cathedral, clergy perform a short litany of reconciliation.

In the shadow of the blitzed wartime ruins of the original cathedral, it is a moving little ceremony, a reminder that when we rail against the problems of the world, we need to acknowledge the roots of those problems in our own hearts.1

I think this is a rather nice example of the way that the Cathedral continues to be a location point for people thinking about the past. Coventry Cathedral was a medieval church consecrated as a cathedral in 1918 for the re-founding of the Diocese of Coventry, and to be perfectly honest, it was just a standard English medieval church. It was not particularly interesting for the first twenty-two years of its history, but its significance and power stem from the night of 14 November 1940, when the city centre was bombed – and it’s really important to note that it was the city centre that was bombed, not just the Cathedral.

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