Remembrance Day has been observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognised as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11th November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I which ended on this date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” in accordance with the Armistice, signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28th June 1919.
The day was specifically dedicated by King George V on 7th November 1919 as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I. The Initial or Very First Armistice Day was held at Buckingham Palace commencing with King George V hosting a “Banquet in Honour of The President of the French Republic” during the evening hours of 10th November 1919. The First Official Armistice Day was subsequently held on the Grounds of Buckingham Palace on the Morning of 11th November 1919. This would set the trend for a day of Remembrance for decades to come.
The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields”. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.
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.
Some people are confused as to which is the official day to remember those who fell. This is because in the United Kingdom, beginning in 1939 when the Second World War started, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11th November in order not to interfere with wartime production should that date fall on a weekday. After the end of World War II, most Armistice Day events were moved to the nearest Sunday and began to commemorate both World Wars. The change was made in many Commonwealth countries, as well as the United Kingdom, and the new commemoration was named Remembrance Sunday or Remembrance Day. So today, both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are now commemorated formally in the UK.