Remembrance Sunday, which falls on 11 November in 2018, is a day for the nation to remember and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom.
Remembrance Sunday is held in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations as a day to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts, ensuring that no-one is forgotten as the nation unites to honour all who suffered or died in war. It is held on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11 November, Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918. The event is usually commemorated with a two minutes’ silence followed by the laying of the wreaths. The silence represents the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, when the guns of Europe fell silent
Remembrance Sunday is also marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most cities, towns and villages, attended by ex-servicemen and women, veterans’ organisations, members of local armed forces military cadet and youth organisations (e.g. Scouts, Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Brigade and Guides). Wreaths of remembrance poppies are laid on the memorials and two minutes’ silence is held at 11 a.m. Church bells are usually rung half-muffled, creating a sombre effect.
Why do we wear poppies?
The reason poppies are used to remember those who have given their lives in battle is because they are the flowers which grew on the battlefields after World War One ended.
“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
Inspiration for “In Flanders Fields”
During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2 May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.
As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.