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What is Remembrance Day?

What is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day, or Poppy Day, is held in Commonwealth countries to remember members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty, as well as all those who have been involved with and affected by war and conflict. Originally declared a special day in 1919 by King George V to remember the soldiers killed in the First World War, now we remember soldiers from all wars who have given their lives.

As the First World War was formally declared over "at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, we traditionally hold two minutes of silence throughout the Commonwealth on 11th November every year. In addition, the second Sunday of each November is known as Remembrance Sunday, and church services remember our fallen soldiers while the Queen, members of the Royal Family, politicians and old soldiers lay poppy wreaths at the Cenotaph in London (near the Houses of Parliament).

Leading up to Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday we buy small paper "poppies" to show that we are remembering the sacrifices of those who died, and also to raise money to support serving and ex-Service personnel and their families. People who have lost a loved one in service put small wooden crosses near war memorials around the country, and local branches of the Royal British Legion lay wreaths.

Why Poppies?

A Canadian doctor, John McCrae, wrote a poem in 1915 about the devastation he saw in the Flanders area of Belgium and in northern France during the First World War. The land lay destroyed by terrible battles, and many men were buried there. But despite the devastation of battle, the wild poppies survived. Dr McCrae's poem was published in Punch magazine, and the poppy became the symbol of remembrance. We have a printable version of his poem here:

Remembrance Day Poems

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