Poppy Day, Lest We Forget

Poppy Day, Lest We Forget

Poppy Day, Lest We Forget

The poppy acts as a symbol of both Remembrance of those who have died during military conflicts and the hope for a peaceful future – as a show of support for the Armed Forces community, past and present, a paper or silk poppy, available from the Royal British Legion Gibraltar , is worn during early November every year, leading up to Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, on Wednesday 11 November.

On Remembrance Sunday, the nearest Sunday to the 11th, wreath-laying ceremonies take place and a two-minute silence is observed at 11 am, after a bugler plays The Last Post, with the bugler ending the two minutes with The Rouse. The silence, which also is observed on Remembrance Day itself, is in remembrance that “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the guns of Europe fell silent when the Great War was finally over after four years of bitter fighting.”

For the first British Remembrance Poppy Day in 1921 cotton and silk poppies were made in devastated areas of France by the widows and orphans of Madame Guérin, “The Poppy Lady from France” and the originator of Poppy Day who raised funds during World War I for widows, orphans, veterans and charities such as the Red Cross and Food for France.

Restricted ceremonies in Gibraltar

Although every year a ceremony and Parade usually takes place in Gibraltar on Remembrance Sunday, this year the government has confirmed that, because of Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings, that “Remembrance Sunday Nov 8 this year will be marked with a series of restricted ceremonies, with only invited wreath layers taking part. The traditional Remembrance Sunday Parade will not take place and members of the public should not attempt to attend any of the events. Admittance will be strictly controlled by the Royal Gibraltar Police. The occasion will be marked at the British War Memorial with a short but significant wreath- laying event where only invited Wreath Layers shall take part. This will be followed by an further-reduced wreath laying event at the American War Memorial. There will be no Act of Worship at either event.”

poppy day

Memorial Stained Glass window, Class of 1934, Royal Military College of Canada
features an Officer Cadet bugler playing “Last Post” or “The Rouse”

1915 Remembrance poem
One of the most quoted poems from the Great War is In Flanders Fields written at the time, 1915, by Canadian military doctor John McCrae after the battle that took place in the Ypres area. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict.

Alexis Helmer, a close friend of McCrae, was killed during the battle on May 2. McCrae performed the burial service himself, at which time he noted how poppies quickly grew around the graves of those who died at Ypres – the next day, he composed the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance at an Advanced Dressing Station outside Ypres, and it is now one of the most evocative poems written in remembrance of the Great War.

In Flanders Fields
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Feature Article by Jon Lewes 2020