Lest We Forget

Today is the 11th day of the 11th month and at the 11th hour we will pause to remember.

Usually scouts will attend church this Sunday, in full uniform and in parade to mark the occasion. My scouts wont. Not because we don't remember, but because the Salvation Army church we are linked to goes elsewhere to help others mark the occasion. So we usually have our own form of remembrance.

The past couple of years I have dedicated a whole scout evening to remembrance, and one of the things that I have always struggled to get my head round... and something that I am sure that the scouts have struggled to grasp... is the shear numbers involved.

When told about the numbers that died, the numbers are so huge that my brain just can't imagine anything that size. So a while back I worked out a way to highlight it, a way to make the numbers real. I think I have talked about it in the past, but never actually posted up the numbers and the process, so here it goes.

I found out, from the internet, how many grains of sugar are in a gram (15.432 on average) and then figured out how many grains were in a 1kg bag of sugar. Then equating 1 grain of sugar to 1 soul I worked out how many bags of sugar were needed to illustrate the numbers.

The numbers were still huge.

So I took along one bag of sugar, and emptied it out across the floor. Getting the kids to see just how many grains were in that one bag... and then went through how many bags were needed for each war and other events to help put things into perspective.

And here are those numbers:

World War 1                      15000000-20000000 dead             972-1296 bags
World War 2                      40000000-72000000 dead             2592-4666 bags

Genocides of Nazi Germany     4871000-11000000 dead          316-713 bags
Auschwitz-Birkenau                  800000-1500000 dead             52-97 bags

Indian Ocean (boxing day) Tsunami         230210 dead              15 bags
Haiti Earthquake                                      222000 dead              14 bags

9/11 Attacks (excluding hijackers)           2977 dead                   0.19 bags
7/7 Bombings                                          52 dead                       0.003 bags
War on Terror                              at least 47183 dead                3 bags

These numbers always humble me, and remind me of how privilaged I am.

Thank you, for all that you gave, I will try to live my life to the fullest and remember.


Charlie said...

Thank you for these numbers. My housemate does similar calculations with bathtubs full of rice, but with a more positive slant - demonstrating how many scouts there are in the world. (Maybe you should include that too, remind them that they can be a force for good in bags of sugar)