Honoring the Past

Every year in November, the royal family, veterans, and the public gather at Whitehall for their Remembrance Service. It’s a memorial day observed by the entire Commonwealth to commemorate the fallen soldiers and sailors from World War I.

Though it is typically celebrated the second Sunday of the month, the actual Remembrance Day falls on November 11th when hostilities officially ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.” Two minutes of silence is observed on November 11th while the Remembrance Service takes place the second Sunday.

This past weekend Kate and other members of the royal family turned out to show their support for the fallen war heros. Every year the attendees wear the same; the Duchess was no different. Below you can see she is wearing a black dress coat and fascinator. Pinned to her coat lapel is a single red poppy.

photo 2

Every year, I’ve seen pictures of Kate attend this ceremony. Every year, I’ve wondered why the red poppy. I think I’ve known its significance, but never put two and two together.

This flower is officially known as the red remembrance poppy. Since 1918 when Remembrance Day was dedicated, it’s become an emblem of the fallen veterans. The significance stems from the poem In Flanders Fields. I’ve copied it below:

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.

The poet, John McCrae, was inspired by this delicate flower, whose vibrant red hue reminded him  of the blood spilled during World War I.

This information I just picked this year as I gleaned a few articles. Why I said I think I’ve known it all along is because when Max and I traveled to Europe three years ago, one of the things I noticed were huge fields of poppies. I remember reading in my travel book that these flowers bloomed across some of the most gruesome battlefields all along the Western front. I even remember thinking, wow, that’s a staggering amount of flowers dotting the countryside as the train rolled by.

Many people confuse Remembrance Day with Veteran’s Day, thinking them to be the same memorial. It’s not. The UK celebrates Armed Forces Day which is the equivalent of our Veteran’s Day. I like to think of it like this: Remembrance Day honors the soldiers from World War I while Armed Forces/Veteran’s Day honors troops from both the past and present.

Today in the United States, it’s Veteran’s Day. Today, we remember those who have gone before us to protect our freedoms and defend our borders, past and present. The time for our soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen will never go away. Where there is light there will always be darkness.

Take a moment to shake a veteran’s hand today; tell them thank you for their service. Without their sacrifice, our nation wouldn’t be what it is today.


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