Sunday, 6 November 2011

Remembrance Sunday

Next Sunday will be for everyone English, Remembrance Sunday, which is preceded by Armistice Day or 11 November, the day when the Great War ended in 1918. The war to end all wars was the first global world war, engulfing millions, displacing millions and sadly ending the lives of millions. A war that is responsible in some way for many historical events since.

One of the most poignant symbols after the war was the humble poppy. The poppy was a flowering plant which would grow and flower in the war torn battlefields of Belgium (Flanders) where there was some of the worst fighting and then amongst the war graves until it became an iconic and globally known image of the war.

It is worn and used by many countries around the world to help people show their respect to the people who served, fought and died in the first world war and all conflicts since, including current theatres of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In England, Remembrance Sunday is a day when people stop and pay their respects through laying wreaths of poppies and also holding 2 minutes silence at 11am. London comes to a standstill as the government, the royal family and  many veterans of all major conflicts march past the Cenotaph (a war memorial) and lay wreaths there. Also across the country, people lay wreaths at their local war memorial where ever they live.

This act of remembrance is also conducted through out the world where ever there is a war grave and over this week these war graves will also have poppies wreaths laid. At sea as well, wreaths of poppies are ceremoniously placed into the ocean.

In Indonesia, I am sure the Dutch will be laying wreaths in the war graves at Menteng Pulo or Ancol and other places throughout the country. The main war grave for England its Commonwealth nations is in Ambon and going there is not really advised at the moment.

For more information about the Ambon British war grave click here.

For me, I will paying my respects both on November 11 at 11 am  for the end of the Great War and then on  Sunday again at 11am to pay my respects to those men and service women who have fought and died in order to defend my freedom.

Even though there are no survivors of the Great War left now and the veterans of World War 2 are fading into glory, every day there are countless people fighting in far flung corners of the globe trying to bring peace and freedom to many. Whilst we may not agree with the politics or the reasons why the soldiers there are doing their jobs with determination and care they should not be forgotten or dismissed. Every nation has its soldiers somewhere trying to bring peace to another nation. If in doubt click this. Indonesia for example has nearly 2000 personnel working for the United Nations Peace Keeping Force where as the UK has 450. However the UK is currently involved in 7 major conflicts in various roles through the world which involves thousands of people risking their lives day in and day out.

I hope they are kept safe and do their job as they were trained to do and they all come home to the heroes welcome they deserve, fit and well.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
by John McCrae, May 1915

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.

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