Where it Began

I have noticed that not every country wears poppies on Remembrance Day, and it made me wonder where and how the idea originated. Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states, since the end of the First World War, to honour armed forces members who have died in the line of duty.

It began following a tradition inaugurated by King George V in 1919, and is also marked by war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. In most countries, Remembrance Day is observed on the 11th of November, to recall the end of the First World War hostilities. Conflicts formally ended ‘at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’ of 1918, in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Allies between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. ("At the 11th hour" refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 am.) The First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.

Initially, Armistice Day was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a ‘Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic’, during the evening hours of November 10th, 1919. The first official Armistice Day was subsequently held on the following morning, on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. During the Second World War, many countries changed the name of this day. Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations adopted Remembrance Day, while the US chose Veterans Day.

The common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC tradition, includes one or two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour, as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom), when the armistice became effective. In Australia, however, the date drifted until 1997, when the Governor-General proclaimed that November 11th of each year, shall be known and observed as Remembrance Day.

In Barbados, Remembrance Day is not a public holiday, but is recognized on the 11th of November. Parades and ceremonial events are carried out on Remembrance Sunday. The day is celebrated to recognize the Barbadian soldiers who died fighting in the First and Second World Wars.

Bermuda, which sent the first colonial volunteer unit to the Western Front in 1915, and which had more people per capita in uniform during the Second World War than any othe