Remembrance Day, by Rachel Rowland, ABC School’s Academic Coordinator
Every year on 11th November, since World War I ended, people in the UK and around the world remember the brave people in the armed forces who died on the battlefields. We call this important day, Remembrance Day.
World War I, known as The Great War, began on 28th July 1914 and ended on 11th November 1918 at 11am. There were two main sides fighting against each other. These were the Allied Powers, including Great Britain, Russia, Belgium and France, and the Central Powers, which included Germany, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary.
Why did World War I begin?
Countries in Europe had been arguing with each other for a long time before the war began, but the final straw in the long argument happened in 1914 when a man called Franz Ferdinand, who was due to be the next King of Austria-Hungary, was shot and killed in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He was shot by a Serbian man. This caused a great deal of trouble, because Serbia was the main enemy of Austria-Hungary. Subsequently, war on Serbia was declared, and because Germany was a main ally (friend) of Austria-Hungary, they also became involved and declared war on Serbia. However, Serbia was not alone, as it had Russia as a powerful ally.
How did Great Britain become Involved?
Great Britain had special relationships with many countries, including Belgium. Belgium were considered to be a neutral country. The British government made much of their duty to protect Belgium. As Belgium’s ports were close to the British coast, German control would have been a serious threat to Britain. So, when Germany declared war on Belgium and France, Britain decided to get involved.
Many battles were fought during this bloody war, and by the end of World War I, around 20 million people had been killed.
The war ended on 11th November 1918, when the Allies and Germany signed an Armistice. This was an agreement to say that they would stop fighting.
Remembrance Day, also called Armistice Day is on 11th November every year. At 11am on the Sunday before Remembrance Day, people across the world think about those who died in battle, not just in the Great War but also in other wars such as World War II. There is always a two -minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Day in order to remember the dead. There are also special ceremonies on Remembrance Day all across Britain and in other countries.
Why do people wear poppies?
Poppies are worn in November, and on Remembrance Day itself, in Britain and in other countries. This is because poppies grew all over the battlefields in northern France and Belgium, where the soil had been turned over and mixed up due to the fighting that took place there. Therefore, the poppy is the enduring symbol of remembrance of World War I.
The British Legion is a charity that provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and their dependants. Each year, the British Legion sell poppies to the public. All profits go towards funding their ongoing work in supporting the Armed Forces community. Every poppy makes a difference to the lives of the Armed Forces community. If you wish to buy a poppy, there are many places where you can purchase one, including online at www.britishlegion.org.uk.
You can wear a poppy all year round but people traditionally stop wearing them after Armistice Day. It’s really up to you! Wearing a poppy is a very visible way to show respect and admiration for those who sacrificed their lives so that we could retain our freedom.
If you are interested, perhaps you could become involved in poppy selling too! Information on how to become involved can be found on the website above. By becoming a volunteer, helping to distribute poppies to your friends and neighbours, you would be provided with the perfect opportunity to practise your English language skills!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about Remembrance Day.
Perhaps you will feel compelled to tell all of your friends about why we wear the poppy in November, and maybe you too can remember those who died on the battlefields all those years ago on November 11th at 11am.