Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day - Lest we forget

Remembrance-Day-poppy11th November marks Remembrance Day (or Armistice Day) , a day which the world commemorates the sacrifices of men and women in wars, specifically that of the First World War. 11th Nov 2008 also marks the 90th anniversary of the year the Axis Powers laid down their arms and offered unconditional surrender.

In 1918, the First World War, otherwise known as the Great War, that saw millions of soldiers and civilians slaughtered and many millions more displaced, was thought to be the 'War that end all wars'. Well, that apparently didn't happen and many perceived the Treaty of Versailles that was born from it sowed the seeds for the Second World War - a merely 20 years later.

As a show for support for veterans and those currently in service, newspaper stands all around the UK has been peddling poppies since a couple of weeks back and Londoners (even TV presenters) have been wearing them since.

Remembrance-Day-ParadeOn Remembrance Sunday (9th Nov), the Queen initiated the ceremony by placing the first wreath on the Cenotaph at Whitehall. With that, local branches of the Royal British Legion led memorials and parades with members of the armed forces, veterans and other affiliated associations.

As a Singaporean, I don't recall reading much about the First World War in our history text as South East Asia was relatively unaffected (with Japan on the Allied side) other than a couple of tussles for German ports along the Chinese coast when the first shots were fired.

Remembrance-Day-Parade-2That said, Remembrance Day, to me, is not just to commemorate those who fell during the Great World but also to remind those who have got any romantic notion of wars that they are anything but, to remind the politicians that every soldier that they send in the name of 'defending the country's honour' is in fact somebody's parent or child and to remind us that the way of life that we have come to know is not to be taken for granted.

On this Remembrance Day, I salute all those who suffered under the times of turmoil and those who paid the ultimate price for the beliefs that they held. So say we all.

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Emm said...

This is a really beautiful post - thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just for your information the reason for the choice of a Poppy flower as the symbol for the war dead is actually this. After the massive battles that churned the fields of Europe (bombs, tanks etc.) Poppoies flourished in the broken soil. Swaths of these flowers appeared in the fields where so many young men had died.

The colour of course is appropriate, fields drenched with blood, covoured in blood red flowers...

kyh said...

May they rest in peace. They will always be the heroes who sacrificed for the freedom of their countries.

Beamer said...

I don't know why I haven't seen any of those Poppies around here yet. They usually have them out and about a few weeks before the Holiday. Odd.

Excellent Post. I never thought about England celebrating this great holiday. Thanks for the Info.


Haruyoshi said...

We will never forget, no worry!

Dutchie said...

Saw the commemoration n TV last nite.

Do u know that in Iepe (NL), bugle calls r sounded every evening for the fallen British soldiers since 1918 ?

There r no winners in wars n still it happens time n again :-( I always wonder if the world is a more peaceful place if women r at the helm ? We would use a different approach to conflicts instead of the need to flex the muscles like men do ;-s

C K said...

Really appreciate that. Did you get a poppy? :)

Thanks Bruce! I didn't realise that. I'm surprised that this information wasn't found on Wikipedia. In fact, I was asking my colleagues why poppies were chosen and none of them seem to know.

My sentiments exactly. Then again, some of those living have got this fantasy that they, too, will be elevated to this 'hero' status if they die for a cause. That, in my opinion, is foolhardy.

Hmm, do Californians celebrate Armistice Day with poppies as well?

No worries there.... with all the poppies around.

Really? Is that bell solely for British soldiers? I know for a fact that Norway will contribute a giant pine tree to be placed in London's Trafalgar Square every Christmas for the sacrifice of British soldiers liberating the country during WW2.

Hah, I think that's a question that pop up every now and then. I read somewhere that women tend to be more viscious when it comes to the crunch. Margaret Thatcher is not exactly a pushover when it comes to politics, neither is Indira Gandhi. I'll have to sit on the fence for this one. :)

Dutchie said...

CK, there's a white arch built like a portal into the city of Ieper with 50,000 names of the fallen British soldiers engraved on the walls.

The volunteer has been sounding the bugle since day 1, out of respect for the soldiers. Even in bad weather conditions or no spectators, he's out there every evening. Touching isn't it ?