When we bow our heads in reflection, we remember those who fought for our freedom during both World Wars. But now we also mourn and honour those who have lost their lives in more recent conflicts. Today, with troops on duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots around the world, Remembrance, and this two minute tribute, are as important as it has ever been.
So what was Armistice Day and why do we wear a poppy? Well this is why.
On 11 November 1918 the Armistice was signed between the Allied and German armies, ending the First World War – a global war that lasted four years with the total human cost to Britain and the Empire of 3,049,972 casualties, including 658,705 dead.
The last three stalwarts of the Great War. Harry Patch, Bill Stone and Henry Allingham all died during 2009. With their passing, the Great War has finally moved from living human memory to history.
Henry Allingham said: "These hellish memories of war are ones I'd rather forget.
But never my comrades !
Never the men who gave their everything.
" During a visit to a war cemetery in France, he was quoted as saying,
"All of us must remember them, always " and so we do.
So why do we wear a poppy?
Doctor John McCrae, a Canadian wrote a poem in 1915 called
We are the Dead.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
We Shall Keep the Faith
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the FaithWith All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the deadIn Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.