Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day. However, one remembers the sacrifices of the many brave men and women of the armed forces in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, the United States or any of the other Allied nations that fought in World War I, the day is sacred to their memories.

In the United States we commemorate the many veterans of all the armed forces of the United States that have served in uniform for the defense and safety of the American people. In the United Kingdom and other nations of the Commonwealth, they mourn those that have died while bearing arms in defense of their countries.

Historically the day has been one of commemoration marked with a floral red poppy (Papaver rhoeas) as a poignant reminder of the brutality of the First World War and the great losses of human life on all sides that forever transformed the battlefields of France into perpetual memorials of man’s inhumanity against other men.

The red poppy was first made popular through the poem, In Flanders Fields, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. McCrae fought at the Second Battle of Ypres among other battles during the war, but it was at this famous Flanders battlefield that McCrae penned his famous poem.

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.   Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 

 

Ever since the poem became popular in the post-war era the red poppy has been a sonorous reminder of the tragedies of the First World War and all the subsequent wars since November 11, 1918. The military armistice commenced on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour which signaled the end of hostilities between the warring nations. Ever since, the red poppy remains symbolic of the fallen soldiers who valiantly fought in what was ignominiously called, the Great War.

In the United States, the red poppy was adopted in 1922 by the American Foreign Legion as a remembrance of those that fought and perished in all of America’s wars. Frequently, veterans distribute them outside of stores and markets in return for a donation to the American Legion.  Veteran’s Day in the United States celebrates those that have faithfully served in our military forces, Memorial Day is the day we commemorate those that have made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our United States.

Regardless of the nuances that distinguish each commemoration in the United States, remembrance and thanksgiving are the touchstones of our national psyche that remember the dead and celebrate military service.

In a modern world that often calls on the resources of our armed forces to protect our international and domestic security, we should indeed remember those that have sacrificed their lives for freedom and give thanks for all those brave men and women that have answered the call to wear the military uniform of their respective countries to protect and serve their countries.

November 11th is indeed Remembrance Day as well as Veteran’s Day because regardless of the moniker with which the day is identified it makes all of us determined that war on such a global scale should never ever happen again.

On November 11th, make sure you thank a veteran, our free American Republic exists because of their service and patriotism. Also, if you can say a prayer as well for all of those that died in military service for our country, they too gave their lives in the struggle for the blessings of freedom.

May all of us remember their sacrifices and celebrate their actions on Veteran’s Day or Remembrance Day…our world is safer because of their unselfish service.

 

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