Nov 9th 2010
While entertaining a client visiting from Boston at the beginning of November, they remarked that they had noticed a lot of people, including on television, wearing flowers (poppies) on their clothes.
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These poppies are made in the British Legion factory in Richmond upon Thames, a facility that was set up to enable disabled members of the armed forces with gainful employment. Some 42 million poppies are made there each year.
November 11 is known as Armistice Day (or Veterans Day in the US) and is widely known as Remembrance day. It was the commemoration of the armistice signed between the Allies of World War 1 and Germany. That agreement came into force at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.
Remembrance day is now the occasion to commemorate and remember the dead of all wars.
The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of a poem by Canadian Military physician John McCrae - In Flanders Fields. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Belgium in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare.
The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations (but not the United Kingdom) to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during the war. Nowadays it falls on the Sunday nearest the actual date, and a main road in London - Whitehall is closed to traffic to enable placing of wreaths to take place by members of the Royal family, heads of the UK Government, and of the various military forces and associated civilian groups.
This outdoor religious service, including the 2 minutes silence, is followed by the processions of old soldiers and similar people involved in war effort, including nurses, whereby the pensioners and ex-soldiers march past -in formation - to show their respects and remember fallen comrades. Similar memorial services take place in other towns and cities throughout the UK and in many other parts of the world people take a two-minute moment of silence, at 11:00 a.m. as a sign of respect for the millions of people who have died in war.
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.
Photos courtesy of The Royal British Legion