November 13, 2016

Remembrance Day

I didn't realize it, but there is a Veterans Day in the UK (known now as Armed Forces Day), but it's fairly new and I suspect not nearly as significant as Remembrance Day, our equivalent being Memorial Day. I think the holidays and their significance seem to be flip flopped, at least from my perspective. In the US the "bigger" of the holidays seems to be Veterans Day. There are often parades and events for the day whereas I don't see as much fanfare surrounding Memorial Day and of the two, honoring the sacrifice of the Veteran who died in service to our nation seems like it should be more acknowledged and respected. Alas, Memorial Day has sort of just become this kick off to summer and that's not how the holiday is treated here.

I think in general the US does a better job of honoring living and current Veterans, at times sometimes being too over the top in the hero worship, whereas here in England being a (modern day) Veteran doesn't seem to carry the same weight as it does in the states. But as far as paying tribute to the fallen, I've been impressed with the importance of celebrating Remembrance Day. We missed almost all of the ceremony and parade held here today, but walked to the city centre where we saw lots of Soldiers in uniform from different branches, and clergy from lots of different faiths, who all paid tribute. Finn said he watched a video about Remembrance Day and they talked about the Poppies and all week we've seen people and businesses displaying poppies, the symbol of remembrance inspired by John McCrae's Poem In Flanders Fields. I had to memorize this poem my freshman year at West Point and found it so beautifully somber.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
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,
Love and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders field.

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



  1. I love the name "Remembrance Day". Is that weird? I think it's because I don't love the word Memorial. And really just for silly reasons of my own. Memorial sounds more like an object than an action. Like a check we write or a trinket we purchase or even sometime the symbol of the flag as a marker. Remembrance sounds more like a collective action, and I love that. That's a very moving poem, it's been decades since I read it.

    I love the red poppies, and those paper poppies are just perfect. For as much as I love our flags and the symbols of flags around the world, I really love the idea of nature as a marker of what we've lost and the people we remember who live in the very ground and air and trees and flowers around us. It's very moving to me, and symbolizes that at our very core, we are of the same earth and the same spirit, without the markers of time or place or circumstance or heritage or country, as vital and as compelling as all those things might be.

    Thank you for your friendship from afar. I wrote more about that in a response to your thoughtful comment on my blog this morning.