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11 November 2010

Armistice Day - Remembrance Day

11th November is Armistice Day - Remembrance Day.

 
"Armistice Day (also known as Remembrance Day) is on November 11 and commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. While this official date to mark the end of the war reflects the cease fire on the Western Front, hostilities continued in other regions, especially across the former Russian Empire and in parts of the old Ottoman Empire.


The date was declared a national holiday in many allied nations, to commemorate those members of the armed forces who were killed during war. An exception is Italy, where the end of the war is commemorated on November 4, the day of the Armistice of Villa Giusti. After World War II, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States and to Remembrance Day in countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Armistice Day remains an official holiday in France. It is also an official holiday in Belgium, known also as the Day of Peace in the Flanders Fields.



In many parts of the world people observe a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. as a sign of respect for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war, as suggested by Edward George Honey in a letter to a British newspaper, although Wellesley Tudor Pole established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.



In the UK, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to November 11 in order not to interfere with wartime production should November 11 fall on a weekday. After the war, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars. The change was made in many Commonwealth countries as well as the United Kingdom, and the new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day. Both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are now commemorated formally in the UK."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armistice_Day

 


Figure 1: A photograph of poppies taken in the Tunisian countryside.


Canadian Doctor and Soldier Lt Col. John McCrae Wrote WWI Poem "In Flanders Fields."

 
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


***

Here is the third and fourth stanza from Laurence Binyon's poem "For The Fallen" (1914), which adorns numerous war memorials around the world.




Binyon's most famous poem, For the Fallen, is often recited at Remembrance Sunday services in the UK, and an integral part of Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and November 11 Remembrance Day services in Canada. The third and fourth verses of the poem (although often just the fourth) have so been claimed as a tribute to all casualties of war, regardless of nation.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.

Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.


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.

In 1915, despite being too old to enlist in the First World War, Laurence Binyon volunteered at a British hospital for French soldiers, Hopital Temporaire d'Arc-en-Barrois, Haute-Marne, France, working briefly as a hospital orderly. He returned in the summer of 1916 and took care of soldiers taken in from the Verdun battlefield. He wrote about his experiences in For Dauntless France (1918) and his poems, "Fetching the Wounded" and "The Distant Guns", were inspired by his hospital service in Arc-en-Barrois."

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