Saturday, November 11, 2006
11 November is variously known as Armistice Day or as Remembrance Day. In the UK, in fact, while a two minutes' silence is observed at 11am on 11 November, the second Sunday of November is officially Remembrance Sunday, and most official ceremonies take place that day.
Undoubtedly the best-known symbol of remembrance, particularly in the English-speaking world, is the poppy, a type of flower that springs up in disturbed earth and so was widely in evidence in the North of France and in Flanders during the First World War. John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 near Ieper, starts with the memorable lines
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place
It is with these famous lines in mind that Ieper now has a widely visited In Flanders Fields museum, where over 60% of visitors each year are British. Around this time of the year, many British schoolchildren visit the area around Ieper, a tradition which is kept alive (and affordable) with UK government support.
Apart from covering news surrounding Remembrance Day, including reports on the controversy over white vs. 'politically correct' red poppies, or on the question when one should start wearing poppies in public, the BBC also maintains an impressive Remembrance website with historical information, testimonies, war poetry, and much more. Well worth a virtual stop, if only to keep the memory of the war dead alive, and to stop and think about the immense human cost of war. Such is also the message in the conclusion to McCrae's poem:
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
[The image included in this entry is by Andrew Dunn and is used by permission under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license.]
Posted by Lieven Vandelanotte at 5:10 PM