The origins of the Remembrance poppy


Every year at the beginning of November everyone in the UK and some other commonwealth countries start to sport a red poppy in the run up to Armistice Day on 11th November. Often referred to as Remembrance Day in the UK, it is the day we remember the men and women who have died in conflict in the defence of their land. The Armistice was the agreement that concluded World War I and it was signed on 11th November 1918 at 11am.

At 11 o’clock on the eleventh day of the 11th month, United Kingdom stops for two minutes to observe a silence. Remembrance Sunday is observed on the 2nd Sunday in November with marches, memorial services and the laying of wreaths at war memorials in cities, towns and villages all across the UK. The image of Remembrance is the poppy and it has been adopted by the Royal British Legion who do so much great work to aid ex – military personal.

The year after the end of World War I, King George V dedicated a day to recognize the personal who had died during the four year war and the 1st two minute silence was held in London on 11th November 1919 at 11am. The following day, the Manchester Guardian published that the two minute silence was impeccably observed.

The poppy was preferred as the image of Remembrance for 2 reasons; its red colour mirrored the bloodshed and the in the war torn fields of Flanders, the poppy was one of the small number of living things to grow. The poppy is mentioned in the poem “In Flanders Fields” which was published by the Canadian physician John McCrae in 1915.

The style of the poppy worn as a symbolic representation of Remembrance varies to some degree from place to place. In Britain, the design of the poppy is a flat, firm paper leaf placed on a plastic stem. Some also have a single green leaf and it is held in place with in a single pin.

Wreaths laid at memorials on Armistice Day and right through the year are typically made of artificial poppies and today countries worldwide have taken the poppy as the universal mark of Remembrance.

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