We Will Remember Them – The Story Behind Remembrance Day

Nov 11, 2016


Each year, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we honour those who fought for our freedom by holding a two-minute silence.

But what is the significance of this act of remembering and the story behind it?

 What is Remembrance Day?

Held each year on 11th November, Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day) commemorates the Allies and Germany signing the armistice at 11am on 11th November 1918.

In Britain we remember those who lost their lives in both the First and Second World Wars, as well as the 12,000 British service men and women who have died or been injured in conflicts since 1945.

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In addition to Remembrance Day is Remembrance Sunday which falls on the second Sunday in November. On this day, ceremonies take place at war memorials, cenotaphs and churches throughout the country and abroad.

What was the importance of the armistice?

While some conflicts continued, the signing of the armistice effectively signalled the end of four years of bloody fighting in the First World War.

Signed at 5am on 11th November 1918, in the French Marshal Ferdinand Foch’s railway carriage located north of Paris, the peace treaty took effect six hours later.

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Within a fortnight the Germans were required by the treaty to evacuate invaded territories. In addition, they were obligated to surrender artillery, including 5000 guns, 25,000 machine guns and 1,700 planes.

Six months later, The Treaty of Versailles was signed and acted as a lasting resolution.

Why do we hold a two-minute silence?

In May 1919, Australian journalist Edward George Honey is thought to have suggested a two-minute silence in a letter to the London Evening News.

It was then on 11th November 1919 that King George V first asked the public to observe a silence at 11am: “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.

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Today, schools, organisations and churches across Britain hold a two-minute silence at 11am and hold services at war memorials on both Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday.

Why do we wear poppies?

The resilient red poppy was the first flower to appear from the Northern France and Flanders battlefields after the First World War.

After losing a friend in Ypres, Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was moved by poppies growing in battlefields to write the famous In Flanders Fields poemInspired by his poem, American Moina Michael started making and selling silk poppies to raise funds for ex-service personnel.

Paper poppy

The bright red poppy came over to the UK and was adopted by the Royal British Legion as a symbol of remembrance and hope when it was formed in 1921. Ever since, each year Royal British Legion volunteers have distributed the iconic paper poppies and in return collected donations to help support the Armed Forces community.

Find out about how you can truly honour those who sacrificed their lives by ensuring their memory lives on with a History Tour.

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/what-is-armistice-day-why-do-we-wear-poppies-and-when-is-remembr/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/15492752

http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/poppy-appeal-2016/what-is-the-poppy-appeal/