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Lest we forget

11th November is a very important date.  It’s my birthday – woo hoo!!!

But seriously and more importantly, it is Armistice Day – the day which commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

In many parts of the world, people take a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. local time as a sign of respect for the roughly 20 million people who died in the war.  In the United Kingdom, beginning in 1939, the two-minute silence was moved to the Sunday nearest to 11 November in order not to interfere with wartime production should 11 November 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.

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.

After initially forbidding the England football team from wearing an embroidered poppy on their jerseys during their match against Spain at Wembley Stadium on 12 November 2011, FIFA eventually agreed that the team could wear the poppy on armbands instead. It is also hoped that the Scotland team are able to wear poppies on black armbands when they tackle Cyprus in their international friendly in Larnaca tonight.  Let us hope that common sense prevails!

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