Never Forget. (Photoblog)
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011. The nation will pause.
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in 2011 - 11-11-11-11 - We will be remembering those who were willing to lay down their lives for their country. We will fall silent and take two minutes to reflect on the sacrifice of our brave Service men and women from conflicts past and present. Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday reflect on the events of the First World War and the continuing impact of conflict around the world. Here are 11 photos I’ve taken with my composed poem in remembrance, to maintain the memory of those who gave so much.
The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance and of the Poppy Appeal. The history of the poppy started with the first official Legion Poppy Day which was held in Britain on 11 November 1921 inspired by the poem In Flanders' Fields written by John McCrae. Since then the Poppy Appeal has been a key annual event in the nation's calendar and Poppy Collectors appear in late October so that donations can be made and poppies can be worn for Remembrance.
The National Memorial Arboretum is set within the National Forest of Staffordshire and comprises 150 acres of trees and many emotive memorials devoted to the concept of Remembrance. It was established at the beginning of the millennium and was then officially opened on 16 May 2001. It also affords a panoramic view of other memorials to the armed forces, police, fire service and many other civilian organisations who have also lost their lives. The Arboretum is a unique haven of peace, contemplation and hope for the future. Our visit there last year offered us an opportunity to pay tribute to those who died in the service of Britain.
The names of over 15,530 servicemen and women are engraved on the Portland stone panelled walls. ‘Every name, every life, every sacrifice, deserves to be remembered. Forever.’
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the First World War ended. This memorial is scribed ‘Through this space a shaft of sunlight falls at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.’ The design of this memorial allows the sun to shine on the central wreath sculpture on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
The National Memorial Arboretum honours the fallen, recognises sacrifices and gives pride to the country. In the heart of the Arboretum lies the Armed Forces Memorial which is a tribute to the service personnel who have lost their lives in conflict or as a result of terrorism since the end of the Second World War.
Many people associate Remembrance Day with heroes of D-Day or the Battle of Britain's Spitfire pilots. Some people think of the deeds of the SAS during the Falklands conflict or, of course, Flanders Fields from World War I, carpeted in poppies growing where so many men lost their lives. But in the last few years it's also been about the nation showing its support for the soldiers returning injured and traumatised from current conflicts.
The Royal Air Forces Association symbol. The memorial plaque nearby had this written on it.. ‘In friendship and in service one to another we are pledged to keep alive the memory of those of all nations who died in the Royal Air Force and in the Air Forces of the Commonwealth. In their name we give ourselves to this noble cause. Proudly and thankfully. We will remember them’
The Commandos formed by the Army in June 1940 as a well-armed but non-regimental raider force employing unconventional and irregular tactics to assault, disrupt and reconnoitre the enemy. This memorial consists of a reproduction of part of the Association badge – the wreath in copper and the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife in stainless steel. The impressive piece was created at Anwick Forge in Lincolnshire.
This is a section of the Burma railway situated in the Far East exhibition. The memorial is constructed from 30 metres of the original rails and sleepers used on the Burma railway which were brought to the Arboretum from Thailand in HMS Northumberland in 2002. The memorial is a permanent tribute to those who were forced to construct the infamous ‘Railway of Death’ and the benches and trees around the railway track have relevant dedications. The memorial was dedicated on 15 August 2002.
During the First World War some 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were shot for desertion or cowardice; the real usual cause for their offences was post-traumatic syndrome and combat stress reaction. Most of them were sentenced after a short trial at which no real opportunity for defence was allowed. ‘Shot at Dawn’ is a memorial modelled on the likeness of a young British soldier who was blindfolded and tied to a stake to be shot by a firing squad at dawn. Private Herbert Burden, of the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers lied about his age to enlist in the armed forces and was shot for desertion at Ypres in 1915 aged 17. The memorial is surrounded by a semi-circle of stakes on which are listed the names of every soldier executed in this fashion.
The Royal British Legion which has its 90th Anniversary this year sold 45 million poppies in Britain last year. The Poppy became a symbol of blood spilt in war and a sign of new life amid death. It was adopted as the emblem of Remembrance Day after the First World War poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’ reputedly written by Lt Col John McCrae who saw his friend Alexis Helmer aged 22 killed on May 3rd 1915. Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and Northern France. The poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation. McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian Armed Forces, deeply inspired and moved by what he saw, wrote the poignant poem. ‘In Flanders Fields.’
At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month. The nation will pause. And we will remember.
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