Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rememberance Day

First day that I was here, (has it only been a little over a week?) I noticed people wearing red plastic flowers on their lapels, sweaters, coats and bags. I thought there was an odd misplaced fashion attack that was consuming Londoners. I didn’t ask S or Preston was about. Mid week I was reading the Guardian and I discovered the flowers are plastic poppies sold by the Royal British Legion for Rememberance Day which is sort of like Memorial Day in the States, but it seemed a bit more. . . more here. Probably because so many people are wearing these little plastic flowers and the date is commemorating the end World War I. The Royal British Legion does a lot of good work assisting ex-Service and Service men and women and their dependants. I found myself wanting to wear a poppy. From the Poppy Appeal Website: The first official Legion Poppy Day was held in Britain on 11 November 1921, inspired by the poem In Flanders' Fields written by John McCrae. Since then the Poppy Appeal has been a key annual event in the nation's calendar. In Flanders' Fields: Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War I took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Northern France. The Poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation. McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian Armed Forces, deeply inspired and moved by what he saw, wrote these verses: In Flanders' Fields John McCrae, 1915 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. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the First World War ended. Civilians wanted to remember the people who had given their lives for peace and freedom. An American War Secretary, Moina Michael, inspired by John McCrae's poem, began selling Poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-Service community. And so the tradition began. If you are curious, you can see the statistics for the casualties for WWI by country. Another interesting fact I just gleaned from a fun little book I just read, A Treasury of Royal Scandals, Kaiser Wilhelm II and King George V had the same grandmother, Queen Victoria. Imagine that war made where to spend Christmas dinner a bit uncomfortable at the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha or, as he changed to appease British nationalist leanings, The House of Windsor.

4 Comments:

At 11/14/2005 03:55:00 PM, Blogger Scott E D said...

I love reading your posts like this. It’s like you are living in the US the way I know and understand it, instead of a foreign country. It amazes me you had never seen those before now.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars does the same thing in the US. Around Veterans Day you used to see them asking for donations in busy intersections. Whey you gave a donation you got a poppy. I haven’t seen them so much in recent years.

http://www.vfw.org/resources/pdf/poppy.pdf?SITE=VFW

 
At 11/14/2005 07:45:00 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

How funny- Just goes to show that growing up on the west coast is so much more different than the east. . .

 
At 11/17/2005 08:41:00 AM, Blogger lala said...

What's interesting about the link you provided for the stats on casualties from World War I is that they included the Commonwealth countries like Canada and Australia in Britain's numbers.

Hmmm, annoying....

 
At 11/17/2005 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Nicole said...

Yeah, I know. . .

 

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