November is the time of the year when people in the UK wear a red poppy in memory of those who sacrificed their lives for us during wars.
The tradition began after the signing of the Armistice which signalled the end of the First World War. The document agreed that at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the war would end. This was on 11th November 1918. So at 11am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. This war had cost millions of lives and thousands more were badly wounded.
Remembrance Day is a special day when we remember all those men and women who were killed during the two major World Wars as well as other conflicts. Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is usually the Sunday nearest to 11 November. Special services are held at war memorials and churches all over Britain. At the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London the Queen lays a wreath on behalf of the nation.
A poem called 'For the Fallen' (by Laurence Binyon [1869 – 1943])
is usually read aloud during the ceremony; the most famous stanza of which reads:
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
The poppy is used as a symbol of remembrance because they grew naturally in the fields where much of the First World War fighting took place. The money donated by people when they buy an artificial poppy is used to help ex-service people who have suffered injury in combat - it may be a disabled ex-soldier needs a wheelchair because of their injury, or a blind person who can no longer earn money needs financial help – the charity ‘The Royal British Legion’ will offer help.
Sadly British men and women are still being injured today in conflicts, and more names are being added to war memorials. Modern medical science means that many more injured service people are being kept alive, but often with terrible injuries. ‘We will remember them’.