November 11th – About the Day
Today is Remembrance day. Throughout Britain and the Commonwealth, it is a day during which we remember all those in the armed forces who have given their lives in service for their countries. It is also known as Poppy day, after the red remembrance poppy that has become associated with the day.
The date 11.11 is chosen for Remembrance day for its particular significance as the day that the hostilities of World War One formally ended – “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” I remember many years at school when we would observe a minute’s silence at eleven o’ clock to honour the fallen.
It was King George V who specifically dedicated the day to be a day of remembrance, specifically for those who had died during WWI, but since then it’s purpose has evolved into a day of remembrance for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and paid the price in the hunt for peace.
World Peace is one of the ultimate aims, is it not? I wonder if dreaming of world peace is perhaps a little naïve. It seems so obvious, at first glance: we, as a race, need to learn from our mistakes. We should realise that we are all the same and make peace. I would truly love for that to happen. But it hasn’t happened yet. Last century their were two wars of such significance as to be named World Wars, and yet we are still fighting. It makes you wonder what has to happen for us to learn the lesson. There’s a quote by Plato* that seems relevant – ‘Only the dead will see the end of war.’
I can understand people wanting peace. Like I said, I do too. But what I don’t understand is when some people feel that the way to achieve this is to get angry at the soldiers. To use another quote ‘The military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.’ – William Westmoreland* Obviously I can’t speak with any certainty for all soldiers of the world, but it seems to me that very few people sign up to be soldiers because they want to kill. Being a soldier is about protecting people.
As I said above, the red poppy has become a symbol for remembrance day. It represents the blood of fallen soldiers. There is also a movement which uses a white poppy as a symbol. A symbol of peace. I think it is not as well known as well as the red poppy. Some people do wear it instead of the red, the idea being that it is to remove them from the militaristic aspects of Remembrance Day.
I think the red and white poppy are both equally valid, in their own ways. Remembering those who gave their lives is important. Respecting those who are giving their lives is just as important, if not more so. And dreaming of world peace, however futile it may be, is perhaps the most important thing of all.
How does your country acknowledge the lives lost in wars? Do you think World Peace is achievable?
*Quotes from QuoteGarden
This post turned out rather differently from the way I had intended when I began writing. I hope it is at least semi-cohesive. It’s been a busy few days, so my brain is a bit fuzzy!