Today is Remembrance Day – also known as Armistice Day – the anniversary of the signing of the agreement in 1918 that marked the end of the First World War.
Armistice Day is marked by all countries of the Commonwealth, while many other countries recognize the anniversary as a day of remembrance.
The first official ceremony on the date was held at Buckingham Palace by King George V in 1919, when he hosted Raymond Poincaré, who was then President of France.
What you need to know about Remembrance Day is how it differs from Remembrance Day.
When is Remembrance Day?
Remembrance Day is always on November 11, no matter what day it is.
The name is now more commonly used than Armistice Day, as it is considered a time to remember all those who lost their lives in war, not just the First World War.
Traditionally, a two-minute silence is observed at 11 o’clock, marking the exact time of the end of hostilities in 1918 – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The Royal British Legion says: “This year we are asking the nation to pause, take a breath and reflect on the service and sacrifice of our armed forces.”
What was the armistice of the first world war?
An armistice was signed by representatives of the Allies and German officials, declaring the end of World War I with the cessation of hostilities on land, sea and air.
By the end of September 1918, the German high command had largely accepted that their military prospects were hopeless.
He opened peace talks with the Allies on Wednesday 5 October by sending a message to former US President Woodrow Wilson, who had proposed his “Fourteen Formulas” for peace in early 1918.
Despite a late change of heart by the influential General Erich Ludendorff, any appetite for war left the German army shattered after four years of grueling fighting.
The Allies began discussing an armistice on 5 November, although the European powers generally opposed President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, considering them idealistic.
A deal was finally agreed at 5:00 a.m. on November 11, which will take effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time.
Although this marked the end of all hostilities, the nation was officially involved in a state of war for seven more months until the controversial Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919.
When is remembrance Sunday?
Remembrance Sunday always falls at the end of the second week of November, which means that this year’s Remembrance Sunday falls on November 13.
The Royal British Legion describes it as “a national occasion to remember the service and sacrifice of all those who have defended our freedom and our way of life”.
What are the main events of Sunday?
In London, every year on Remembrance Sunday there is a national commemoration ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
The Royal Marines bugle sounds the last post and wreaths are laid by members of the royal family, political party leaders, important military figures and civilians.
A short religious service followed by a two-minute silence is followed by a march-past, attended by hundreds of military veterans.
The Royal British Legion also holds an annual commemoration at the Royal Albert Hall to honor those who have served Britain and the Commonwealth.
This year’s event is being held on Saturday 12th November with performances at 2pm and 7pm.
Outside the capital, most British cities hold events to mark Remembrance Sunday, which usually take place at war memorials or public spaces and include parades, silent reflections and readings.
Why do we wear poppies to mark Remembrance Day?
The poppy has been a prominent symbol of remembrance for nearly a century, with millions of memorial flowers produced each year to pay tribute to those who died in war.
Its origins lie in the opening lines of the war poem In Flanders Fields, first published in December 1915 by Canadian officer John McCrae: “In Flanders Fields poppies blow, beech cross, row upon row.”
The flower was adopted as a symbol by the newly formed Royal British Legion, a charity established to provide assistance to veterans and members of the British Armed Forces and their families.
The appeal of growing poppies in a room above a shop in Bermondsey, south London, has grown to a facility in Richmond, where 50 ex-servicemen and women work year-round to produce millions of the symbolic flowers.
Outside the UK, the poppy is mainly worn in Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and to a lesser extent in the US.
When do you stop wearing poppies?
There is no set date when you are to stop wearing the symbol, so there is no need to worry about something going wrong.
According to the Royal British Legion, “There is no right or wrong way to wear a poppy – except to wear it with pride”.
Dan says: “You can wear poppies all year round but traditionally people stop wearing poppies on November 11, Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday, whichever comes later.”
Is there any ‘right’ side to wearing a poppy?
Some say that the poppy should be worn on the left lapel to keep it close to the heart – this is also the side where the medal is worn by the armed forces.
Others argue that the symbol should be displayed on the left by men and on the right by women, the traditional position of a badge or brooch.
The position of the leaf has also prompted debate, according to one theory it should be at 11 o’clock, representing the signing of the armistice at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
However, the British Army says there is no right or wrong way.