Sunday, November 13, 2011

Remembrance Sunday

Today is Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom, a day to honor veterans.  It's also sometimes called "Poppy Day".  The brilliant flower came to represent World War I veterans because it was native to some WWI battlefields.  Remembrance Day is held on the Sunday nearest November 11, which as we know is Veterans Day in the US.   

Cities and towns all over the UK will hold ceremonies at the village war memorials.  Current and former members of the armed forces, as well as members of cadet forces and youth organizations, will place poppy wreaths on town memorials.  Moments of silence will take place, and church bells will ring.  Even the soccer teams will wear an armband with an embroidered poppy to mark the day. 

All of these activities are a way of expressing gratitude for the sacrifices made by the soldiers and their families over the years, as if a parade and a wreath could ever be enough. 

Earlier this year, my family and I traveled to Belgium, where we visited Tyne Cot Cemetery, among other World War I sights.  It's a peaceful place in the middle of the beautiful Belgian countryside.  The cemetery is the final resting place for almost 12,000 British Commonwealth servicemen from World War I.  A staggering, heartbreaking 8,000+ of these are unknown.  A nearby piece of land, know as the Ypres Salient, was the subject of five battles from 1914 to 1918.  The soldiers of Tyne Cot fought in those battles. 

On Remembrance Day, we remember these soldiers, their families, their sacrifices.  On this Veteran's Day weekend, we also remember all of our soldiers, past and present, who have fought for our freedoms.  We thank them and their families for every sacrifice.  I can sit at home and write this post today because sometime in the past, a veteran thought of his countrymen first.  I cannot say "thank you" enough. 

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