There is something very powerful about silence, particularly when standing in the midst of a group that would normally be anything but silent.

Today there was an act of remembrance at my school. A time shift of a few minutes brought this into the middle of morning break. Normally this is a noisy time, a time for students to let off steam, but not today. Those students who wanted to take part arrived in the quad, in the rain. They were chatting and laughing loudly as they arrived, but that soon changed.

Once the allotted time arrived the head spoke a few words and suddenly absolute silence reigned.

A large number of our students stood quietly in the rain and remembered. Many others, who were standing in the corridors looking out onto the quad, did exactly the same.

For a few of them, those with friends or family members serving in the forces, I’m sure the connection with those killed or injured seems very immediate, very personal. Of course not everyone is affected in such a direct way, but last week the head gave a very moving presentation during assembly time; as a result of this everyone knew exactly what we were commemorating. Maybe that’s why the atmosphere was so appropriate, so fitting, so respectful.

Even once the act of remembrance had finished, there was no immediate return to the natural exuberance that I associate with break time, just students moving calmly off, easing back into everyday life.

That shared interlude of silence had passed, but it won’t have been forgotten.

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