On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, people all around the United Kingdom fall silent. They remember the date and time that the First World War came to an end. 2013 was of no exception, with individuals, families and businesses around the UK—and many other countries around the world—observing two minutes of silence to remember those who fought in the First World War and wars since then.
People all over the country gathered for parades on Remembrance Sunday and some continued today, with the Staffordshire Armed Forces Memorial being a central point for many. One of the guests at the event was Dorothy Ellis, who is the last living widow of a WWI soldier.
The two minute silence was originally set so people remembered the fallen of the greatest war the world had ever seen between 1914 and 1918. Since then, there was a bigger war—World War Two—and there have been many ongoing conflicts around the world. The silence is now a time to remember all those who have fought during the various wars, whether they have lost their lives or be injured in some way; mentally and physically.
The Armed Forces Memorial is just one of those that bears the name of the many who died during the first big conflict. It hosts the names of 16,000 servicemen who lost their lives during the Great War and is designed so that during the two minute silence, sunlight hits the monument so it stands out.
Staffordshire was not the only city to witness a full memorial service for the day. London was the spot for many, with the Archbishop of Canterbury visiting the Cenotaph at Whitehall. The Most Rev. Justin Welby stated that this was a time to remember the fallen and give thanks for everything that they have did during both the World Wars that occurred during the 20th century. It is also a time to work on bringing about peace around the world.
At Trafalgar Square, people came out of their work buildings to witness the two minute silence. People of all beliefs were a part of the commemorations. Nothing was going to stop them; even the threat of rain. Even drivers were encouraged to stop by all traffic lights around the area remaining red for a full four minutes. Soldiers had signs as a way to explain the delay to prevent the noise of traffic during this time.
Before the silence, there was music from Paul Potts, James Blunt and The Poppy Girls. James Blunt served in the British Army and reached the rank of Captain. The Poppy Girls are five girls who all have parents serving in the Armed Forces. Their single is the official one for this year’s campaign. The start and end of the silence was marked with The Last Post and Reveille, which was played by Bugler Lance Sergeant Christopher Clarke this year.
The Poppy Appeal needs to raise £37 million this year to continue to support the families of those who serve in the British Armed Forces. £1.6 million is spent every week to help in various types of ways.
By Alexandria Ingham