Today is a day that was set aside by King George V to remember those who had been killed in the line of duty during World War I. November 11, 1918 was the day on which the fighting in the First Great War ended; it is also the date that has been used to remember those who died while fighting for their country in World War II.
Growing up in South Africa, I did not realise the meaning of the red poppy that people wear on their lapels leading up to Remembrance Day. I have now learned that it is a symbol for the blood that was spilled during the World Wars. The poppy was chosen because of the poem, In Flanders Fields, written by a Canadian soldier named Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. During the First World War, poppies bloomed on the fields in Flanders where the most bloody battles were fought – an experience that McCrae refers to in his verse:
The video clip, not only includes a reading of McCrae’s war poem, but also shows the hauntingly beautiful fields of poppies in which the trenches were dug.
Remembrance Day does not seem to have prevented war: World War II was fought 27 years after hostilities ceased for World War I. In our modern-day world, other wars are being fought: men and women are dying for a cause in countries far from home; a cause that has been deemed important by those who hold power.
Makes me wonder on the effectiveness of this day. Has the World War experience become too far removed from modern men and women? Does this day need to be reinvented so that the purpose of it may touch the hearts of the young who have had no personal experience of the heartache and butchery suffered during the “war to end all wars”?
What are your thoughts on Remembrance Day?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012