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Armistice Day - Remembrance Day - The forgotten heroes

Remembrance is not just about those who fought in the two World Wars of the last century, but also about those involved in the many other conflicts worldwide since 1945 and those still fighting for peace and freedom now. It is also about learning from the past and resolving to make the world a better place to live in the future.

Remembrance Sunday, 14th of November 2004

National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

The Cenotaph ceremony was first held in 1921 as a unique expression of national homage devoted to the remembrance of those who gave their lives during the First World War. It was originally conceived as a commemoration of the war dead of the United Kingdom, the Empire (and subsequently the Commonwealth) and the British territories overseas.

After the Second World War the scope of the ceremony was extended to focus on the nation's dead of both World Wars, and in 1980 it was widened once again to extend the remembrance to all who have suffered and died in conflict in the service of their country and all those who mourn them.

The service at the Cenotaph is framed to ensure that no-one is forgotten. The wreath laid by The Queen and the other tributes placed on the Cenotaph are dedicated to all who have suffered and died in war. Members of the Cabinet, Opposition Party leaders, former Prime Ministers and certain other Ministers and the Mayor of London are invited to attend the ceremony by the Lord Chancellor on behalf of the Cabinet, along with representatives of the Armed Forces, Merchant Air and Navy and Fishing Fleets, civilian services and members of faith communities. High Commissioners from Commonwealth countries also attend the ceremony and lay wreaths at the Cenotaph.

To watch the ceremony it is essential to be in place well in advance. The assembly of the military and other participants begins at about 10.00 a.m; Commonwealth High Commissioners and politicians join at around 1040 and the Royal Family, led by HM The Queen are in position just before 11.00 a.m.

The Service and wreath-laying last about 25 minutes, after which the Royal Family, politicians and High Commissioners depart.

Wreath laying by leaders of the principal ex-Service organisations then takes place, followed by the march past of some 10,000 ex-Service men and women. They are followed by a contingent from London Buses (To mark the use of London buses and drivers as troop transport in France during WWI) and other civilian groups, making the parade representative of the whole nation and the Commonwealth.

Two Minute Silence – November 11th at 11.00am

The Royal British Legion strongly supports and will always put its full weight behind the traditional Remembrance Sunday services and the customary Two-Minute Silence. The Legion, the national custodian of Remembrance, founded among other reasons to ensure that... "we will remember them"...believes that it is entirely appropriate that Remembrance should be brought into the everyday life of the Nation on 11th November, whatever day of the week that may be. Support from industry, commerce, institutions and from all walks of life is substantial and the Legion is calling for this to happen again in 2003.Remembrance transcends all boundaries. The Legion is seeking a small yet significant individual and collective act, a rare moment when the Nation can stand together and reflect on the price of freedom. That price is still being paid. More than 12,000 British Servicemen and women have been killed or injured on active service since 1945."If we are to maintain our peace and freedom we must always remember".

Please support the Poppy Appeal



How the Poppy Appeal began

Canadian doctor John McCrae was serving in Flanders with the Canadian Armed Forces when, having seen the poppy survive the bloody conflicts in northern France, he wrote his 1915 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
In Flanders’ fields.

Moina Michael, an American War Secretary with the YMCA, was moved by this poem to buy poppies with money collected from her work colleagues, and sold them to friends to raise funds for ex-Servicemen. Her French colleague, Madame Guerin, suggested the sale of artificial poppies to the Legion in August 1921 in order to help the ex-Service community in Britain.

The first donations for artificial poppies were given in Britain on 11 November 1921, raising £106,000 – an equivalent spending power of more than £3.1million in today’s terms, a huge sum for the time.

Major George Howson, a young infantry officer, had formed the Disabled Society to help disabled ex-Service people from World War One. Howson suggested to the Legion that Society members should make poppies, and the artificial flowers were designed so that someone who had lost the use of a hand could assemble them with one hand – a principle that has endured. This suggestion led to the foundation of the Poppy Factory at Richmond, Surrey, in 1922, where poppies are still made today.

Major Events During Remembrance

Monday 8th November
Garden of Remembrance
Planting of Remembrance crosses at St Paul’s Cathedral
For information contact: Ann-Mari Burt - 020 7973 7237 or aburt@britishlegion.org.uk

Thursday 11th November
Welsh National Garden of Remembrance
Planting of Remembrance Crosses at Cathay’s Park, Cardiff
For information contact: Charlie Carty – 02920 372626 or ccarty@britishlegion.org.uk

Thursday 11th November
Armistice Day
The Two Minute Silence at 11am
For information contact: Jeremy Lillies – 020 7973 7265 or jlillies@britishlegion.org.uk

Thursday 11th November
Field of Remembrance
Royal planting of Remembrance crosses at the Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey.
For information contact: Ann-Mari Burt - 020 7973 7237or aburt@britishlegion.org.uk

Saturday 13th November
The Lord Mayor’s Show, London
For information contact: Lisa Penwarden - 020 7973 7280 or

Saturday 13th November
Festival of Remembrance
The Legion’s own special tribute at The Royal Albert Hall
For information contact: Alan Purdie – 020 7973 7253 or apurdie@britishlegion.org.uk

Sunday 14th November
Remembrance Sunday
The Cenotaph Parade, Whitehall
For information contact: Jeremy Lillies - 020 7973 7265 or jlillies@britishlegion.org.uk

For further information about Legion events visit: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/helpus/events.asp



Related Links

Royal British Legion