Yesterday, 100 years ago, our ancestors were fighting for our freedom in shallow trenches across Europe during one of the deadliest wars this planet has ever witnessed. The First World War claimed the lives of an estimated 14 million people over the course of a turbulent four years, prompting mass mourning combined with celebration when it ended in 1918.
The following year “on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” England’s King George V held the first Remembrance Day service to honor those that gave their lives to King and country.
The memorial day has continued as a tradition every year since, with high-ranking military figures, royalty and members of the public taking a moment to reflect on the horror of both the First World War and the Second World War, which came a mere 21 years later.
The sombre event is recognized throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, most of whom pay respect for the fallen with a two minutes silence at the 11th hour. Respect is also shown via the use of the poppy, which was inspired by those found in Flanders Fields, which represent the blood shed during the bitter battles.
In England, the streets of Whitehall are saturated with military personnel, veterans, government officials, civilians and royalty every November 11, as thousands attend the carefully choreographed memorial event.
This year was no different with regard to pomp, pageantry and respect. The streets of Whitehall in London turned a vivid red river, with wreaths of poppies and the crimson uniforms worn by veterans and serving soldiers.