11 November 2011

Remembrance Day

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Poppies, poppies, poppies everywhere

If you are walking around the streets of England right now, you cannot help but notice many wearing 
paper red poppies in their button holes or driving with an affixed plastic poppy on their grille

[ personal photo ]

Aside from the date being 11/11/11 { love that! }

today is Remembrance Day,
a memorial day observed in many Commonwealth countries 
to remember those in the armed forces who have died serving their countries since World War I

{ the official end of WWI was 11 November 1918 at 11am }

As a sign of respect at 11am,
many English will take a two minute moment of silence today as they do each year as a sign of respect

A team of about 50 people, mostly disabled former British military personnel,
work all year to churn out millions of paper poppies to sell in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
{Scotland makes their own}

Formed in 1922,
The Royal British Legion Poppy Factory is located in an old brewery in Richmond, just outside London

Remembrance Poppies are sold on the street by volunteers at the cost of a donation
and worn by the general public, TV presenters, celebrities, the Royal Family, and politicians

Emma Watson wears a Poppy to the world premier of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I' in London last year
[ The Telegraph ]

Funds collected go to charities providing financial, social and emotional support 
to those who have served or who are currently serving 
in the British Armed Forces and their dependents

It all began with the wartime poem 'In Flanders Fields' written by Canadian doctor John McCrae and
first published in 1915 in the London-based magazine Punch

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row...

This poem refers to the corn poppy/ Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas), 
the first plant to grow in the churned-up soil of soldiers graves in Belgium and northern France during WWI

{ and one of my all-time wildflower favs }

Flanders Poppy
[ wikipedia ]

In 1918, American YWCA worker Moina Michael was inspired by the poem
and vowed to always wear a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those who served in war

She appeared at the YWCA Overseas War Secretaries' conference 
with a silk poppy pinned to her coat and distributed 25 more to those attending 

At this conference, Frenchwoman Anna E Guerin was inspired to send artificial poppies to London in 1921
which were adopted by the Royal British Legion shortly thereafter
The rest is history

Although this poppy-wearing tradition was started by an American,
it is not practiced in the United States

I must say it is nice to see a garden of poppies walking around the streets on lapels and cars
What a wonderful way to remember the men and women of the armed services who sacrifice so much

And it is a reminder that you never know when you can start a worldwide trend :)

{ Free 2-hour RBL Poppy Factory Tours are offered in Richmond here }

P.S. Thanks to Paul of From Sheep To Alligators for pointing out that Richmond is in London.

Sources: Go LondonBBC 1 2Wikipedia 1 2


Pet said...

It must be said that the British are masters of doing these things in a respectful and at the same time poetic way.
Thanks again for yet another of your well informed and well written Posts, a delight to read always for the lucky ones like me who managed to find your blog.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Oh Pet, that is so nice of you to say, I might cry :) And you are so right about the British :)

Daydream Living said...

Good morning Laura,
Yes, Pet is right (and also nice), the Britsh are very good at traditions and the poppies I knew where a sign of respect for the fallen ones in the War, but I didn't knew the rest, so thank you for the info, very lovely post!
Have a good weekend, Maureen xx

Ellie said...

It's amazing - you know so much more about these things than I do and I'm from Scotland. Thank forall these interesting facts.

Liene said...

Thanks for a lovely post! I would like to add that I've worn a poppy in the US many years; the celebration of Veterans Day includes moments of remembrance across the country, as well as the opportunity to donate to Veterans' Associations in exchange for one to pin to your lapel. It really is a beautiful tradition, one that I now know we share with the British!

Zosia said...

in Canada red felt poppies are also worn at this time of the year. In Poland, Nov. 11th is also Polish Independence Day. My post today is about those two holidays.

Jeanne @ Collage of Life said...

Thank you Laura, for this very informative post! I have my poppy and will think of this post when I wear it today. Best wishes for a lovely weekend!
Jeanne x:)

Kris said...

Really nice post. Thank you for reminding everyone! Poppy wearing is still an American tradition, but sadly most Americans are forgetting. My Dad is a war veteran and every Veterans Day and the weekend following, he volunteers by standing in front of Walmart in his uniform passing out poppies. It makes him very sad and upset that many Americans no longer know what the poppy represents. My grandmother always tells us grandkids how years ago nearly everyone in America wore poppies on Veterans day.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@ Liene, @ Kris: Thank you for the comments about it being an American tradition - I never saw it where I lived in the US, and sadly it sounds like it is fizzling out where it has held on. Definitely something worth revitalizing.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

I love how each time I visit your wonderful blog, you teach me something new. Poppy Day is huge here in the U.K., and today's ringing of the chimes and moment of silence shown on the BBC was truly touching.

Good to finally be here!!! Hoping all is very well with you?
Cheers x Deb

The Southland Life said...

thank you so much for sharing this! ive wondered what the poppies meant, and it is so nice to find out. what a beautiful way to support such special people. i wish we could bring this back in the us. xx.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@ Dumbwit Tellher - welcome to the UK! Glad you made it :)

Mel Mel said...

My husband and I were just talking about this last night. We live near Canada and can get the local Vancouver evening news. We noticed that every night, everyone is wearing a poppy and that they had special segments on about different veterans. Unfortunately, here in the USA, I haven't seen very many people wear the poppies or even anyone handing them out. And hardly anything special about our heroes. Just stores having sales, sales, sales! Makes me very sad as a lot of my family has served. My Dad served in WW2, my uncle in Korea, my brother in Vietnam and a brother in law served in Desert Storm. I thank all of the veterans for their service in keeping us safe.

TexWisGirl said...

i love this tradition. i remember my parents buying paper poppies from the VFW members when i was a kid here in the US. :)

Kirsteen said...

I think it's not just here in the UK we wear poppies, but also in other Commonwealth countries.
My boys were researching it for their Boy's Brigade homework and that's what they found out anyway!!

Ola said...

and today is also our Independence Day:)

Elizabeth Gilmore said...

I was wondering about the red poppies that Will & Kate were wearing. Here in the states we are honoring War Veteran today as well.

I hope you have a good day.


Barb said...

Thank you for this reminder. I wish we still wore the poppies here in the States. Visuals help us remember. When I was a girl, my grandma called it Armistice day. She never changed that even when we started calling it Veteran's day. A prayer to all veterans everywhere. I shall wear the poppy in my heart.

Hines-Sight said...

Love the poppies.

Barbara said...

I've always wondered the tradition about the poppies!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

What a cool tradition! I wonder why it didn't catch on here? I'd love to participate.

Paul said...

I was inspired to look up Remembrance Day after reading your post! Interesting that poppy wearing began in the USA!

I am being pedantic again (as usual!), but Richmond is very much inside London, not outside - I can say this from experience. It was historically a seperate town, but got swallowed up some time ago!

raisingmytcks said...

Thanks for all the details. I remember as a child people selling the poppies to wear, but couldn't remember when it was. Thanks to all the comments I'm sure it was on Nov. 11. I haven't seen it in years, though I haven't lived in the US for years, either.
Thanks for all the info about it. I had no idea the history. I will be sharing with the kids tonight at supper. I don't want the next generation to forget. I like that the Brits and Canadians call it Remembrance Day.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@ Paul - always love your comments! Where did you find that? I'd love to add it as a postscript.

As far as Richmond, you raise an interesting point. I guess because it has a TW (Twickenham) postcode instead of the typical London directional postcode, I thought technically it was outside London. However, Wikipedia does write 'Richmond is a town in southwest London'. Many thanks for close reading :)

barefoot mama said...

And what a wonderful worldwide trend it would be.... GREAT post!

Erin S. said...

I love Poppy Day--we lived in Richmond and all the school kids would take a field trip to the poppy factory and learn about the symbolism behind the flowers. I didn't know all the history behind it, though. Thanks for researching it.

Joyce said...

I love the poppies and I wish we still did something like that in the US. We now have sales and a day off school.

Robyn said...

The British Legion in Kenya sell poppies and our school held a special and moving Remembrance service - I was very pleased that we marked the important day.

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

My ignorant American ass either didn't know or had forgotten that you all had a holiday corresponding to our Veteran's Day. I need to help myself to a history book I guess.

lizzybradbury said...

Great post, I always learn so much from your bloggin!

Lizzy x

beetree said...

I love the poppies (my favorite kind!) and the meaning behind them. I have seen them being sold in front of the stores, but definitely not widespread. We definitely need to continue to show our thankfulness to the men and women who serve and have served our countries, and their families, too!

AliceHarold said...

Hello - I sent you an email today! :)

Jennifer Lo Prete said...

Hi! Jennifer from OrangePolkaDot in Spain. I have finally worked on sorting my "real" blog comments from the spam, and I found an old comment from you and clicked over to your site. So glad I did! I love reading about other women in similar situations to mine, but in a different country. I lived in London after University and remember everyone wearing Poppies on the 11 of Nov. What a great tradition.

Now, I am off to read through your posts!
I look forward to more reading! Cheers!

you should be out on a meadow said...

i love this.
i would love to see everyone adorned with flowers.
i wish we did it over here.
so pretty.
(the poppy on the car reminds of christmas in OKC - except a wreath of course) xo