Today we remember the numerous deaths in the trenches of WWI and the day & hour those guns fell silent as well as the dead in the many wars since. It is also the day the last ceramic poppy is placed in the moat at the Tower of London. This is a tribute that has captured the nation in many ways – with calls for it to remain longer although there are warnings the poppies could crack in the cold so as far as I know it will start to be dismantled tomorrow with the Wave and Weeping Willow segments remaining for a while.
In full the poem from which the words of remembrance that all services across the UK and indeed across much of the world use:
The Fallen by Lawrence Binyon
Written in September 1914
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is a music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncountered:
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end they remain.
And then why we use poppies to remember them. This poem formed a large part of our Remembrance Sunday service:
In Flanders Field – by John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
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.
The epitaph “When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today” is best known for being on the 2nd British Division memorial in Kohima Cemetary from the Burma War in WWII. However it is attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds who in an article in the Times in 1919 wrote ‘Four Epitaphs’ including “When you go home, tell them of us and say, For your tomorrows these gave their today.”
I am scheduling this post to appear at 10.59 as my remembrance – I shall be observing the 2 minute silence at university – and want to observe it on social media as well.