Remembrance Day (United Kingdom, Australia, Canada), also known as Poppy Day (South Africa and Malta), and Armistice Day (New Zealand, France, and many other Commonwealth countries; and the original name of the day internationally) is a day to commemorate the sacrifice of veterans and civilians in World War I, World War II, and other wars. It is observed on 11th November to recall ‘the day the guns fell silent’ at the conclusion of World War I on that date in 1918. The observance is specifically dedicated to members of the Armed Forces who were killed during war, and was created by King George V of the United Kingdom on 7th November 1919.
The date and the time of Remembrance ceremonies (11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) reflects the signing of the Armistice between the Entente (Allied) Powers and the Central Axis Powers bringing about an end to hostilities and thus an end to ‘the war to end all wars’ World War I.
Ironically the last British soldier was killed by a German sniper at 10:58am.
Who we remember
Although initiated for the casualties of World War I, Remembrance Day today is to commemorate all the people whose lives were lost as a result of various conflicts around the world. One factor that is unfortunately forgotten by people outside of the Armed Forces, is the number of people injured by conflicts.
Whatever ones’ political, religious or nationalistic views or allegiances; one fact remains constant: people lose their lives as a result of armed conflict. People whose lives and sacrifice should never be forgotten.
Four lines from a poem are associated and quoted at Remembrance ceremonies. The poem was first published in the Times newspaper on 21st. September 1914. As this was very early in the war, it was written as a reaction to the high casualty rates of the British Expeditionary Force at Mons and Le Cateau, but the four famous lines have now taken an existence of their own that apply to all war casualties.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”.
From the poem ‘The Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon.
Here in the UK the main ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.
Members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and Government officials are in attendance.
Equally important is the march past of veterans, representatives of Veterans Associations and members of all of the Services.
In Scotland the main remembrance ceremony takes place in Edinburgh, with a wreath-laying service at the Stone of Remembrance on the High Street, followed by a church service in St Giles Cathedral. Other services take place at war memorials the length and breadth of Scotland.
Remembrance around the world
Remembrance Day is commemorated by the Commonwealth of Nations (these include Canada and India. Australia and New Zealand now commemorate their losses on ANZAC Day).