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Updated on November 10, 2018

Mark of Remembrance

The Remembrance poppy The inspiration came from a poem penned by a Soldier
The Remembrance poppy The inspiration came from a poem penned by a Soldier

A Day to Reflect

Tomorrow is a very special day, it's the day when we mark the hundredth year since the end of one of the bloodiest conflicts in history, and in many ways, we reflect the creation of the world we live in today.

At eleven AM on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year nineteen eighteen the guns that had raged across the globe fell silent and everyone alive at the time said a prayer.

They were praying and saying "thank you" for being brought through the biggest and most bloody war that the planet had seen up to that time and saying a prayer in the hope that it would never happen again.

Remembrance day (as it's called in Britain) is the day when we remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy the things we enjoy today.

Why Remember?

World war one was the biggest war anyone had ever experienced at the time. The nations who fought the war were from all over the globe, even Japan and China took part in the war in some shape or form, and yes they fought with the Allies.

But the brunt of the fighting was done in Europe, and in particular, it was fought in Eastern France and Belgium, with eighty million losing their lives.

But all that changed on the eleventh of November 1918 at eleven AM.

That was when an exhausted Germany who never wanted the war in the first place finally persuaded her allies (Austria and Hungary) that they could not win the war, and it was time to take literally any deal that the French, British and Americans were willing to offer, literally 'peace at any price' and the price was to be steep!

This is 'As they saw it'

Remembering the Past

Remembrance Sunday is the nearest Sunday to November the 11th. In Britain, it's the time when we remember all those who paid for the freedom we enjoy today, the time when we take a moment to remember what it really meant for those who gave their all.

Every year at 11 o'clock the sirens sound and the whole country would observe a minute's silence.

It doesn't matter what you were doing at the time, everything stops and a minute of silence happens.

The 'Old soldiers, Sailors and Airmen are already down at the local war memorial not just observing the minute, but also holding a service to remember fallen comrades, those we weren't fortunate enough to make it home.

Initially, it was the fallen from the First world war who were remembered, the tradition was started in 1919. But over the years, and as we took part in more and more wars the lists grew. Now it's for anyone who was killed in action, and with the conflicts going on throughout the globe, every year more names get added.

Symbol of Remembrance

Take a look at the first picture on this hub. That's the symbol of remembrance we use. The simple Poppy


Well, it's said that at the height of the fighting during the dark days of trench warfare, when the soldiers were brave enough (or dumb enough as it could get you killed) to look out into 'No man's land' (Literally the land between the Allied and German trenches) all that would grow there was the Poppy, a simple flower, that's what the soldiers saw, and it's what was forever linked to the fighting by the poem 'In Flanders Fields'

It's a simple flower, but its one I wore with pride over the last few days.

At the memorial places the 'Old Soldiers' (forgive me, but I'm including both Sailors and Airmen in that phrase start their 'parade' at around 9.30 as they want to culminate with the minutes' silence at eleven.

Every branch of the services, as well as the medical people, the Fire brigades and Police, are all represented, and all lay their tributes at the foot of the memorials, but then for the old soldiers, I think the more important part comes

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

— Lt Col John McCrae

What they can't tell.

I often wondered why my Grandfathers would never talk about their experiences during the wars they fought in (I had one fought and was wounded in ww1 and one who fought and was wounded in ww2) but now I think I know what why that was.

I think they realised that no one who wasn't with them, right there on the Battlefield can truly understand what it was like for them, the excitement yet fear as they prepared to 'go over the top' knowing that a lot of them weren't coming home again.

It wasn't, isn't something you can explain without seeming to insult your family, saying "You don't understand" but the truth is, unless you've been there, you won't!

After the service, they retreat back to the 'British Legion' as it's called, the place where the Veterans hang out, and there, they can talk with men and women who've been where they were, who've seen the kind of things they saw,and to some degree have dealt with the guilt of feeling "Why did I make it, and so many didn't?"

But we're not done remembering

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

— 'Ode to Remembrance' from the poem 'The fallen' by Laurence Binyon

Final show of the day

Festival of Remembrance

The final part of the remembering takes place at the Royal Albert Hall that evening where there's a live performance culminating in the massed bands of the Armed forces and one final act that always drew a tear from me, even as a kid takes place.

As the last tune is played one million poppies are released from the top of the stands, they represent each of the one million British soldiers who lost their lives in the first world war.

We Shall Remember them.

One Million of them

A little known fact

Most of us attribute the red Poppy with Remembrance Day, but I found out when I was researching this article that there are actually four colours of poppy that can be worn. They are as follows.

  1. Red. This is the traditional one. The main one we see is red with a Green stem, and in Britain, there would also be a green leaf. The Red poppy is a symbol of Remembrance, but it's also a symbol of hope!
  2. White. The White Poppy symbolizes not the soldiers who died, but those who died in the conflict while working towards peace, the BBC says while they were emphasising a commitment to a lasting peace.
  3. Purple. This one is especially for those who want to remember the sacrifice that animals made during the conflict. Dogs that searched the burned-out buildings after an air raid, Pigeons that carried messages over the trenches, Horses and pulled the gun carriages for the artillery are just a few to think of.
  4. Black. This one remembers those from the African and Caribbean communities who played a part in the conflict.

Take a moment

Tomorrow is a special day, its one hundred years since the end of the 'war to end all wars' so let's take a moment to remember the price those men and women paid, and let us remember the price that men and women from all our nations have paid since.

But I also think that one thing we should do is what General George Patton said.

He said, "It's wrong to be sad that these men died, instead, we should thank God that they lived"

So, while remembering their sacrifice, don't forget to say a prayer of thanks that such men and women were there when we needed them.

Thank you for reading this hub, leave a comment

© 2018 Lawrence Hebb


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    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thank you for the comment. This year our day of remembrance (Anzac day) fell right in the middle of the lockdown period, which meant we've had to do things somewhat differently this year, and that proved a challenge.

    • emge profile image

      MG Singh emge 

      11 months ago from Singapore

      This a wonderful post highlighting a great event. Hope mankind remembers it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      11 months ago from Fresno CA

      It was something that should be remembered. I'm glad there is a day for it.



    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      2 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      Horrible war, but a very moving tribute. Now that you mention it, in the US we remember this as Veteran's Day, though the poppy is not part of the tradition here. I think we jumped in well after the battles in Flanders, and didn't pay as heavy a cost in blood as the Commonwealth nation's. Beautiful work here.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you enjoyed the hub, it's a sobering thing to take time to remember these things, but one that we need to do sometimes.

      To say 'thank you' to those who those who gave up so much so that we can enjoy what we have today.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Brilliant piece Lawrence. You did a great job here, thank you for the reminder.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thank you for that comment. I think each nation does things differently, and that was part of the reason for the hub. I wanted to show a little of how it was celebrated in the towns and cities around Britain.

      One thing that spoke to me was a few years ago Mum was here in NZ on Anzac day (our day of remembrance in 26th April, the day of the Gallipoli landings) and she said the Anzac service was much more personal.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      2 years ago from Joliet, IL

      The sacrifice of one's life is the ultimate act of love. And for that, those we remember should be loved in return. I think of myself as a history nerd but I wasn't aware of how Britain celebrated this day before reading your hub.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thank you

      I'm glad you found the hub interesting. Until this year I also didn't realise there were four 'official' colours to the remembrance poppy, but it does make sense really.

      There are also two types of red poppy as well. The one with the green leaf (pictured above) is used by the Royal British Legion but the one without the leaf is used by the Returned Services Association of Australia and New Zealand (I call it the Anzac poppy)

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello Lawrence. My apologies for being late for your Remembrance hub. This is a wonderful tribute to those who 'gave their today for our tomorrow.'

      I didn't know there were other colours for the poppy. I suppose next year I'll be wearing all four. Thank you.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Learning from the past would be awesome.

      Thank you for joining us.


    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      That's fine and the Bible says they're 'just the beginning' of the birth pains.

      The whole thing is to remember there is a brighter future ahead, even if we have to wait for Jesus to come back.

      He also said "blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs in the kingdom of Heaven"

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      The answer to the question is 'probably never' though different things have been tried to prevent major conflict in Europe.

      I agree with what you say about the Great Tribulation, though to the people of the time, with the Balfour Declaration (1917) promising the creation of a Jewish homeland in what was then Palestine, this probably felt like the start of it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Two things are guaranteed in life, taxes and war. :( A sad jest, but evidently also true. Yes, we must remember the past. Hopefully, one day, we will learn from it.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      If I may leave a note for William K. I agree with you. The Bible speaks of wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, etc. We look around us and wonder how things can get much worse. But, I am certain that my grandparents one century ago had those same thoughts, as did those who lived 100 years before them.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      2 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I guess my question is, when will we ever learn? I'm thankful for all who gave the ultimate sacrifice or who played a part in my freedom today. Sadly we know there is a war to beat all wars is coming. In scripture, it's known as the Tribulation. thank you, Lawrence, for calling us to remembrance.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thank you.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for writing this Lawrence. It is a fitting tribute to those heroes who fought and died in WW1 and all wars since. i stopped for my minute's silence at 11 am and know you would have too.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Thank you, yes it was, and that was the hope that was voiced by the world afterwards.

      Another result of the war was the creation of a global body that sought to prevent another war by mediation, The 'League of Nations' was our first attempt to use international diplomacy to stop global conflict, sadly it didn't have the 'teeth' needed to do anything and was unable to stop the second great conflict.

      You're right about the outbreak of the Spanish flu, so many were going home at the time, and there was no idea how it was spreading, the two are linked.

      By the way, I've just added a little about the colours of the poppy we can wear on Remembrance Day, after all, it was Global and not every victim was Human.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Lawrence, that you for this beautiful article. This was deemed "The Great War" and the "War to End All Wars." How sad that so many lives were lost...and the beat continues.

      There is another list of casualties that were a bi-product of that conflict, if not a direct result, and it is rarely mentioned. The great pandemic of the Spanish flu would probably not have had world-wide spread and consequences had it not been for the war.


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