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Remembrance Day, Lest We Forget...

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

✦ While the contemporary world we live in is certainly not without struggle and strife, there is no doubt it would be an entirely different situation if members of generations gone by had not made the ultimate self-sacrifice to ensure the freedom that many of us enjoy today.


It is why Remembrance Day on November 11 is such a hugely important date in the calendar each year. It is not only an occasion where we have the chance to pay our respects to fallen heroes but one where we are reminded of what conflict can result in, which should, in theory, serve as a painful yet important reminder of what might be.


Remembrance Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to fallen heroes, but it is also an occasion where we are reminded of the impact of conflict | Brilliant-Online
Remembrance Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to fallen heroes, but it is also an occasion where we are reminded of the impact of conflict

Remembrance Day is a memorial day that has been observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War in 1919, although many non-Commonwealth countries also mark the occasion; in the United States, for example, it is better known as Veterans Day. The date of November 11 carries much significance as it was when the hostilities of WWI officially ended – on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Memorials ever since have been held to honour those who died and were injured in combat, in WWI and in the line of duty in other conflicts since.


A Moment Of Silence


At the exact time of 11am on November 11, an infantryman will sound a rendition of ‘The Last Post’ on a bugle, which is then followed by a minute or a two-minute silence, something observed in all countries recognising the occasion, including Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. This was first held in 1919 at the request of King George V who asked the public to observe a silence so as “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.”


Wreaths are also laid to honour the fallen, while blessings and national anthems are also an integral part of the service. As part of the annual service in the UK, members of the Royal Family traditionally lay a wreath and pay respects at the Cenotaph in central London, with the Sovereign leading the procession and laying the first wreath in the role of Head of the Armed Forces. Last year was the first time in many, many years that this service witnessed a change in this regard, however, as it was the first occasion since the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who had undertaken the duty throughout the entirety of her reign. This year, King Charles III will lead the ceremony.


At the exact time of 11am on November 11, an infantryman will sound a rendition of 'The Last Post' | Brilliant-Online
At the exact time of 11am on November 11, an infantryman will sound a rendition of 'The Last Post'

The reach of the occasion is significant, with many major sporting events also holding a minute’s silence to correspond with the date, welcoming veterans and laying wreaths on the pitch ahead of the start of play as a mark of respect. Many team kits will incorporate a poppy design into their jersey and fans will hoist specially-designed flags to commemorate the occasion. Schools will also hold special ceremonies where respects are paid and memories honoured.


Wear A Poppy


If any one item is most widely and instantly recognisable and immediately associated to Remembrance Day, it is the poppy. This well-recognised symbol has come to represent peace and remembrance, with artificial versions of the flower worn by people in many countries to commemorate their military personnel who died in war. The association traces back directly to the end of WWI in 1918. Despite the horror and carnage, poppies flourished on the churned up, bloody battlefields and were a common sight on the Western Front. After the gun fire stopped and the conflict was officially marked as over, thousands of fallen soldiers in the fields of Flanders, Belgium were recovered although thousands more remained where they fell. Shortly afterwards, hundreds of thousands of beautiful poppies grew at the site.


American humanitarian Moina Michael subsequently campaigned for the poppy to be adopted as a universal symbol of remembrance and peace, which it was in due course. It certainly seems apt that such beauty, able to flourish in an arena of such conflict and terror, should be used symbolically in this regard, suggesting that regeneration of life and beauty can occur even through the horrors of war and lost souls.




If any one item is most widely and instantly recognisable and immediately associated to Remembrance Day, it is the poppy| Brilliant-Online
If any one item is most widely and instantly recognisable and immediately associated to Remembrance Day, it is the poppy

The Royal British Legion adopted the poppy as their official emblem shortly afterwards and have continued to undertake incredible work on a global scale supporting veterans and their families

in times of need, with hundreds of former servicemen and women benefiting from their charitable work every year. Each year, the charity organisation raises funds by receiving donations for poppies that are worn by donors to show support. You will see poppies on the lapels of politicians, businessman, sports stars, celebrities and everyday folk on the street around that time of the year, every year.


The Royal British Legion adopted the poppy as their official emblem shortly afterwards and have continued to undertake incredible work on a global scale supporting veterans and their families| Brilliant-Online
The Royal British Legion adopted the poppy as their official emblem shortly afterwards and have continued to undertake incredible work on a global scale supporting veterans and their families

Remembrance Day ultimately serves as an opportunity to preserve the legacy and story of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the freedom they believed in. Story-telling through the generations is important to not only pay respect to the past but to learn for the present and the future. That Remembrance Day is honoured over 100 years later, that its story is relayed through schools and ceremonies so as the next generation can learn from lessons of the past, is wholly positive in ensuring the legacy and relevance are not lost. Lest we forget...


 

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