A poem written by the son of a Sunderland College student who is a soldier in the British Army is one of the poignant exhibits on display to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Spr. Connor French, who is serving in the Royal Engineers, wrote the poem after visiting the prisoner-of-war camps and Normandy Battlefield sites of World War Two.
He was only 17 when he visited Pointe du Hoc, Pegasus Bridge and the Merville Battery Museum as part of his initial training, and Connor, who is now 20, left his poem at Bayeux Memorial in tribute to the casualties of the war.
His mother, Barbara Carling, who is studying an Access to Higher Education course in Educational Studies, donated a copy of the moving poem to Sunderland College to be featured in an exhibition, which is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust and the fallen soldiers of World War Two.
Barbara, aged 37 from Washington, said: “I am extremely proud of Connor and I am also extremely proud that he has so much compassion for others which prompted him to write the poem.
“The display is fitting and moving. I think it is imperative that we remember the terrible events surrounding the wars. Millions of people, soldiers and civilians sacrificed so much to ensure our freedom, how would we be repaying them if they were forgotten?”
Ros Jackson, Sunderland College’s chaplain, organised the striking memorial on display across the college’s four campuses, which features a flame-effect fire, wire representing the concentration camps, messages from students, information about the Holocaust, the Cross of Liberty and Connor’s poem.
Ros said: “Barbara is intensely proud of her son’s poetic skills, which show powerful feelings towards those who sacrificed their lives in World War Two.
“I put together the exhibition because there is huge value in giving students and staff an opportunity to pause and think and make some sort of tangible response, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
“Most students just signed their names as an act of remembrance on yellow ribbon and tied it to the wire; others wrote thoughts, reflections and prayers on luggage labels which can be slightly symbolic of the devaluing of victims of genocide to just numbers or items.”
Spr. Connor French’s poem:
The sea filled with red,
From blood, oh, so cold,
Not one of our heroes will ever grow old,
They lead through a path
Filled with wrong, hate and greed,
Because of those heroes,
We are now freed.