Remembrance Day in the U.K. and Veterans Day in the U.S. both fall on November 11th. Several months ago we started noticing single red flowers on cars and homes and didn’t know what they represented. For the past few weeks people have been wearing these same red flowers on their lapels and just last week we saw them for sale in train stations and shopping areas. They are remembrance poppies and England comes out in force to support and remember the military veterans and those who have sadly lost their lives in the course of their military duty.
Yesterday as we wound through several villages on our way to soccer we noticed gatherings around town squares and near cemeteries. They were local ceremonies to remember their veterans and they were all well attended. The kid’s soccer games also started with a minute of silence. The “Last Post” is traditionally played to introduce the two-minute silence in Remembrance Day ceremonies and is usually ‘ played on a bugle.
Everywhere you look in England and in most of Europe you still see signs of war. I don’t mean destroyed buildings or a military presence. I mean memorials, Eastern European countries that are still modernizing, trying to catch up for lost time, and a palatable sense that the fighting took place right here. Although all countries felt the pain of WWI and WWII, Europe lived it everyday. In the U.S. we have improved since the Vietnam era in our support of men and women in the armed forces but I never felt or noticed the national commitment that we have seen here in England.
We were wondering why this special day always falls on November 11th. Well, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11th November 1918, to signal the end of World War One.
The red poppy is the international symbol for Remembrance and Veteran’s day. At the end of World War One, when Belgium was reduced to mud and rubble the rebuilding process seemed impossible; it was the red poppy that first starting blooming again and helped bring hope and inspiration. They are sold by The Royal British Legion to support veterans and their families.
Thank you to all of our veterans today and always.