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Remembrance Day

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  • Remembrance Day

    In the United Kingdom a two-minute silence is observed at 11am on the Sunday closest to November 11 to remember the country's war dead. The date is significant because the First World War (1914-18) ended at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    Every year there is a Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in London's Whitehall where the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries, lay wreaths to the memory of those killed in Britain's military campaigns. There are similar remembrance services all over the country.

    The significance of the poppy

    Hundreds of thousands of those killed in the First World War died on the fields of Flanders and Picardy in Northern France, and it is here that the poppy tradition has its origins. Vast areas were completely devastated: whole forests were flattened, buildings and roads were destroyed and local wildlife was decimated, but the poppy survived. Every year the striking red flowers would come into bloom marking the muddy graves of the dead, and symbolising hope for those who fought on.

    In 1915, John McCrea, a doctor from the Canadian Army, wrote the following poem from the battlefields of Northern France:

    "In Flanders' fields the poppies blow

    Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place: and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing fly

    Scarce heard amid the guns below,

    We are the dead. Short days ago

    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

    Loved and were loved, and now we lie

    In Flanders' fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:

    To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch: be yours to hold it high,

    If ye break faith with us who die

    E shall not sleep, though poppies grow

    In Flanders' fields"

    McCrea died in a French military hospital in 1918.

    An American poet, Moina Michael, was moved by McCrea's poem and came up with the idea of wearing a red poppy to remember those killed in the Great War. She bought poppies for herself, and for her work colleagues, then sold the remainder to generate a small amount of money which she donated to needy ex-servicemen. Miss Michael then wrote a verse of her own:

    "And now the torch and poppy red,

    Wear in honour of our dead."

    One of Miss Michael's colleagues then suggested that artificial poppies could be manufactured and sold to generate funds to aid ex-servicemen and their dependants. And so the poppy movement started. The first Poppy Day was held in Britain on November 11th 1921 and was a great success.

    Today, the British Legion, the charity dedicated to the welfare of ex-servicemen and their dependants -- produces over 30 million poppies each year. In 1996 the Legion raised over £16 million from poppy sales over 50% of its voluntary funds.


  • #2
    I have to say that I like the revival of the two-minutes silence which is held on the 11th November rather than the nearest Sunday. There are all sorts of practical reasons for the Sunday, but the actual 11th hour on the 11th day seems to me to carry real significance. Where I work there will be a two minute silence at 11:00am tomorrow and I'm all for it.


    • #3
      I couldn't agree more, Eskander. I get goosebumps when they have the silence on the 11th.

      Though I wonder what those who died would think of today's world And of course young men and women are still dying God Bless them all.

      "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


      • #4

        Another perspective of rememberance day is to remember all the

        women and children raped and murdered by soldiers on both sides

        during male dominated wars. Food for thought.