Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembrance Sunday

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.

- "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon
Today is Remembrance Sunday in the UK. Usually held on the second Sunday in November (or the Sunday closest to the 11th) it is a day set aside to remember the sacrifices of those who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.

It is also known as Poppy Day as it is tradition to wear an artificial red poppy sold by the British Legion (a charity dedicated to helping war veterans).

At 11am, a two minute silence is observed at war memorials all across the Country. Here is a timeless description of the first two minute silence held in London on 12th November 1919.

"The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect.

The tram cars glided into stillness, motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead, and the mighty-limbed dray horses hunched back upon their loads and stopped also, seeming to do it of their own volition.

Someone took off his hat, and with a nervous hesitancy the rest of the men bowed their heads also. Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of 'attention'. An elderly woman, not far away, wiped her eyes, and the man beside her looked white and stern. Everyone stood very still ... The hush deepened. It had spread over the whole city and become so pronounced as to impress one with a sense of audibility. It was a silence which was almost pain ... And the spirit of memory brooded over it all."

This year is particularly poignant, since with the passing of Harry Patch in July there are no more British survivors from the Great War.

So many of the freedoms we enjoy and expect were gained through the sacrifices of the lost generations who fought and died for them (and continue to do so). So why not take a moment out of your busy life to reflect on this.

It's the least they deserve.

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