Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Poppy and Remembrance Day

Unlike in the US where Memorial Day and Veterans Day are both recognized and have their own distinct purpose, in England the living and fallen veterans are both honored on November 11, known here as Remembrance Day. In reality, it's more of a Remembrance Week, culminating on the second Sunday of November.

During the week, just about everyone can be seen wearing a red poppy on their lapel. The symbolism stems from the blooming of poppies in war-torn Flanders after World War I, as depicted by the poem In Flanders Fields. Members of the Royal British Legion stand on street corners handing them out and collecting donations.

On the Sunday before Remembrance Day, tradition is that a poppy wreath is laid by the Queen at The Cenotaph monument in London, near Downing Street. At our Church service, there was a similar laying of a wreath and moment of silence, as well as a sermon denouncing war and emphasizing how poor we are at remembering its seriousness and implications.

Even at work on the 11th, there was a two-minute silence observed at 11am. Apparently this is standard practice across the country in pretty much every circumstance.

I felt it was appropriate to donate to the cause, and while I didn't wear a poppy during the week, I did pin one to my lapel on Remembrance Sunday. For my entire life and for the majority of conflicts beginning with World War I, the US and the UK have fought side by side as allies in war. I felt it was appropriate to pay my respect to the fallen UK veterans as I would in the US.

To all our veterans in the US and the UK: THANK YOU!