Archive for November 11th, 2016

One of the things I love about this country that I adopted as my home, is their tradition of Remembrance. 11 November is woven into the very fabric of the country, her citizens and her traditions.

It was my honour and privilege in 2014 to help plant some of the hundreds of thousands of poppies in the moat at the Tower of London…each poppy planted a representation of the lives that were lost during that fateful war. The war towards which young men marched off so bravely to defend their home and country….to fight for the freedoms we enjoy today.

remembrance day tower poppies

Armistice Day – Tower Poppies on 11/11/2014 – We will Remember Them

I was honoured to have the opportunity to attend the event at the Tower of London on 11.11.2014 when the final poppy was planted and the final Roll of Honour was read.

remembrance day tower poppies

We Will Remember Them 11.11.2014 – the very emotional event at the Tower of London

It is fitting and quite right that they should be remembered. I have in the past joined the thousands of people who congregate at the Cenotaph on Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday (the 2nd Sunday of November), a experience to touching and so emotional it’s hard to describe. A time when we remember not only the fallen and those who have since passed on, but also to celebrate those who have fought in more current wars around the globe, who are now fighting a different kind of war….the cheers are deafening.

remembrance sunday

Remembrance Sunday 09.11.2014

As a South African citizen far south of the equator we were vaguely aware of these events, but the clouds of war didn’t hang so heavy over our heads as they did the people who had participated and now lived in SA. I don’t recall ever, especially after we became a Republic, seeing or attending any events related to the two World Wars. My Grandfather used to take my sister and I to the Imperial War Museum in Johannesburg where we clambered over the tanks, planes…my favourite the Spitfire, and various other WW1&2 relics. When I was about 17 he gave me some of his medals (sadly they were since stolen by the natural citizens of SA) and that really was about as much as it touched my life…until I came to the UK.

I know there is some argument for leaving the past in the past, but if we don’t remember the events of the past how can we make sure they don’t happen again in the future.

armistice day remembrance sunday in flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow…. John McRae May 1915

During the early days of the Second Battle of Ypres a young Canadian artillery officer, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed on 2nd May, 1915 in the gun positions near Ypres. An exploding German artillery shell landed near him. He was serving in the same Canadian artillery unit as a friend of his, the Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae.
As the brigade doctor, John McCrae was asked to conduct the burial service for Alexis because the chaplain had been called away somewhere else on duty that evening. It is believed that later that evening, after the burial, John began the draft for his now famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.

So, yes I buy my poppy each year, I attend the events at Whitehall when I can and I too Remember them….they deserve to be remembered.

They fought for my freedom.

They fought for our freedom.

At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them

armistice day remembrance sunday we will remember them

11.11.2014 at the going down of the sun…..

Update: 11/11 – I just came across this article and thought it worthy of sharing in remembrance of the lady behind the story of the poppy…it’s so poignant!!

Moina Michael: “The Poppy Lady”




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