A quick look at Remembrance Day/ Armistice Day

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  1. Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
  2. Every year on November 11, a  pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve during times of war, conflict and peace.
  3. This practice stems from King George V’s declaration on 6 November 1919 that people throughout the Commonwealth should suspend their normal activities so that in “perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead”.
  4. The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day. The Flanders poppy was one of the first plants to grow on the blood-soaked battlefields of France and Belgium. In nineteenth century English poetry, poppies often symbolised sleep or oblivion. After WWI, silk poppies were sold on Armistice Day with proceeds going to a charity for French children and to the Returned Soldiers League (RSL).
  5. Rosemary is often worn on Remembrance Day. An old tale describes the Virgin Mary spreading her blue cloak over a flowering rosemary bush. The story says that the white flowers turned blue and from that day on the bush was called the ‘Rose of Mary’.
  6. Some of the 54 Commonwealth member states, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Other nations observe a solemn day but at different dates. For example, ANZAC Day is observed in New Zealand on April 25. In South Africa, Poppy Day is marked on the Sunday that falls closest to November 11.
  7. Many nations that are not members of the Commonwealth also observe Remembrance Day on November 11, including France, Belgium and Poland.
  1. The United States used to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11. However, in 1954 they changed the name to Veterans Day.
  2. The word ‘armistice’ means a truce or peace arrangement. It comes from the Latin word ‘arma’, meaning arms and ‘stitium’, meaning ‘a stopping’, giving us the meaning: to put down your arms (weapons).
  3. The Unknown Soldier is intended to represent all men killed during war, especially those with no known resting place. The original Unknown Soldier was entombed at Westminster Abbey in London on Remembrance Day 1920. On the same day, France entombed an Unknown Soldier below the Arc de Triomphe.
  4. The Royal British Legion suggests that the poppy is worn on the left lapel of a garment and as close to the heart as possible.

Read more about Remembrance Day and the Royal British Legion here

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