ON the 11th of hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we will remember them. Always. . .

There are times when we feel as though the world has gone mad. In virtually every corner there is some organisation, government figure or movement to fear the unforeseen consequences of.

But the 11th of November, in Great Britain and beyond, is not a day to fret for the future, but a day to reminisce upon the past.

The date 11/11/18 marked the centenary of the end of WW1, and I along with many others gathered around the Cenotaph in Whitehall to remember those that fell before us to preserve the promise of tomorrow.

From young children, to The Royal Family, we all joined together to gaze on as Prince Charles lay down the wreath of poppies in honour of those who fought from 1914 to 1918. It was sombre, but beautiful.

A procession was part of the events with 10,000 spaces balloted to the relatives of WW1 soldiers so they too could march, while church bells rang up and down the country as they have done every year since 1918.

As autumn leaves danced across the sky there was a bond to be felt in the atmosphere, a complete mutual respect and appreciation for that exact moment in time.

At 11am London was silent. Veterans and military stood among the crowd to remember, a sea of poppies before the animations began once again. The music played by the brass band was simply perfect and pipers played the Skye Boat Song as we waited for the clock to strike.

This was one of hundreds of services that took place in the UK on Sunday with even the smallest communities taking part.

I was also privileged to see the incredible installation at the Olympic Park by Rob Heard which saw his 72,396 hand crafted figures become ‘Shrouds of The Somme’ to commemorate those whose bodies were never recovered from the battlefield.

The incredible statement was both harrowing and emotional – members staffing the installation took turns to read out the names of those represented on the grass. It took about five minutes to walk around the field full of 12-inch figures and it was shocking to try and picture these tens of thousands of figurines as fully grown human bodies.

Heard made a point on interview that it is very difficult for us to imagine the astronomical numbers of war-time dead and it therefore became his mission to depict the missing as closely as possible.

The names of those he sought to honour were written on temporary walls within a nearby marquee. Much like the precession, all shapes, sizes and walks of life came together to remember and to appreciate.

The view over Stratford looked all the more poignant with those figures lying peacefully on the ground behind.

On that final note, we leave you with a poem by John McCrae:

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.

Why do we wear Poppies?

The Poppy Appeal is an annual fundraising campaign organised by the Royal British Legion and as well as providing a token of remembrance to one and all during the month of remembrance, The Poppy Appeal seeks to support veterans and their families through the donations they receive.

 

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