Hundred years ago this day one of the most honourable traditions in the world was born. When the guns of the Western Front fell silent after four-year warfare during World War One it was the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.
The red poppy is the famous icon used to commemorate those who lost their lives in the War. Each culture has its own way to respect their brave ancestors. Poppy Day is an English way to remember and respect those who sacrificed themselves to secure the freedom of the country and protect its nations.
Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Memorial Day, and Remembrance Sunday are the days for giving honour to those people who fought for freedom.
Along with the brave heroes, the person who initiated the tradition must be recalled, too. On 8 May 1919 a Melbourne journalist, Edward George Honey (1885-1922), who lived in London at the time, published a letter in The London Evening News and proposed a respectful silence to remember those who had given their lives in the First World War, as he deeply disapproved the people dancing in the streets on the day of the Armistice. Honey believed a period of silence to be a far more appropriate gesture in memory of fallen.
This suggestion eventually made its way to King George V, who issued a proclamation on 7 November 1919. The king personally requested all the people of the British Empire to suspend all activities for two minutes on the hour of the armistice: "It is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities. During that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound, and all comotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may concentrate on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead".
Armistice Day, which annually takes place on 11 November, commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War One and Germany at Compiegne in France at 5:45 am. On 11 November, a two-minute silence is held at 11 am for people to recall those who lost their lives fighting for their country.
At the beginning of World War Two, many countries changed the name of Armistice Day to Remembrance Day. Traditionally, the US made a different choice to use the name Veterans Day. Remembrance Day, therefore, is no different to Armistice Day. The United States customarily made a different choice and set the Veterans Day.
The National Service of Remembrance starts at 11 am at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Queen Elizabeth II pays tribute alongside political figures and militants. High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries and representatives of the Armed Forces, Fishing Fleets and Merchant Air and Navy as well as a selection of veterans participate in the procession. The event is open to the public and it is free to go along and watch. BBC One broadcasts live coverage of the parade and service from 10:20 am on Sunday morning.
Remembrance Day is also known as Remembrance Sunday as it always falls on the second Sunday in November. The event is mainly celebrated in the United Kingdom. However, it is watched or even shared and respected by people from other countries, too, since the digital globalisation of the world society.
While the British remember those who fought and who still fight, it naturally brings mutual feelings to other nations who remember their own citizens who have done and keep doing the same for their own countries.
The Georgian people can easily comprehend the importance of the day for the United Kingdom as the history of Georgia is a 30-century plus survival through the endless fight against different invaders. Our ancestors participated in World War One, and World War Two, too, and in many other battles before and after these two. 10 per cent of the entire Georgian population died fighting against Nazi Germany in WWII.
There are splendid Georgian poems about battlefield poppies, such as "Near Uplistsikhe" by Murman Lebanidze, "Three Hundred Aragvians" by Lado Asatiani, and "Krtsanisi" by Goderdzi Chokheli. The poppy in these poems symbolises the blood spilt on the ground by the Georgian warriors while protecting the freedom of the country or regaining it.