Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Britain since the end of World War 1.
The day remembers the members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed on the 11th of November to recall the end of hostilities of World War 1, on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended ‘at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’, in accordance with the Armistice which was signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente that morning.
The red remembrance poppy has become an official emblem of Remembrance Day in Britain, partly due to the poem “In Flanders Fields”. The reason the poppy is so synonymous is because these flowers bloomed across the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War 1. Their hauntingly beautiful presence all too appropriate a symbol for the blood that was shed in these fields, and many others during the war. World War 1 was referred to as; ‘a war to end all wars’, such was the death toll and violence involved.
As British we honour our military dead from not only World War 1 & 2, but every other conflict where British troops have fought and fallen.
Two minutes of silence is held on Remembrance Day at the eleventh hour (11:00 a.m., 11 November). This time marks the moment (in the UK) when the armistice became effective. This two minutes is a mark of respect for the dead.
The First Two Minute Silence in London (11 November 1919) was reported in the Manchester Guardian on 12 November 1919:
‘The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect. The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition. Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention’. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still … The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain … And the spirit of memory brooded over it all’.
The above extract still accurately portrays even to this day, how powerful the sentiment of the silence is, what is means to the country, and the effect is has over the people.
There is also traditionally a Service of Remembrance. The service includes the sounding of the “Last Post”, followed by the period of silence, followed by the sounding of “The Rouse”; ‘The Last Post’ is played as it was the common bugle call at the close of the military day, and the ‘Rouse’ was the first call of the morning. The service is ended by a recitation of the “Ode of Remembrance”, there are religious blessings given, and the playing of the national anthem also.
The central part of these services revolve around the many Cenotaphs (Greek for empty tomb) around the British Isles. Here during services wreaths are laid signalling the high honour bestowed on the fallen troops.
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae, May 1915
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
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
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Some content thanks to wikipedia