Remembrance Sunday 2014

This poppy was picked from the trenches during the First World War by George James Palmer who was serving in the Machine Gun Corps (MGC). It was picked sometime during the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July -10 November 1917).


Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheats’ restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word–the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

Today the nation honoured the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of The First World War with the traditional Remembrance Sunday service at The Cenotaph. As the historic and truly iconic music was played by the military bands, we remembered all who have given their lives for our country, and indeed, for the greater good across the world. Veteran soldiers took their two minutes silence alongside the families of young men and women killed in modern conflict, united together for this poignant and unforgettable day. I never fail to be moved by watching the coverage, and coming through London on the train afterwards I was fighting the urge to hug and thank every Veteran I saw, who sat on the trains quietly tucking their medals back into their pockets. They did their friends, family and comrades proud today, and I think the first ever spontaneous applause for The Queen after the ceremony was whole heartedly deserved, it sent a powerful reminder that Britain will stand strong against any storm.
Britain has been rallying around Remembrance Day with the encouragement of the current exhibition "Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red" at The Tower Of London. I think more than ever in recent years, the public have been thinking about the impact of The First World War - it's been brought out of black and white text books and once more to forefront of peoples hearts. I think it was a truly momentous exhibit and I am so glad I visited this week, and have one of the poppies coming to my home next year. With both Army and Navy connections in my family, and living in a military town all my life, my emotional connection to the armed forces is becoming clearer to me every year. I have felt the reverberations from the powerful message of today, that despite modern life being so fast paced and often unforgiving, At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.


Porcelina said...

My sister and her husband (a Faulkland's veteran) have just been to see the poppies with their daughters, their photos capture some of the emotion of the experience, just as your words have.

I'm curious as to why the poppy has become the emblem - is it because of that framed poppy that a soldier picked?

A very topical post, and I think you're right that WWI has become much more 'real' to people, perhaps TV programmes like Downton and Mr Selfridge have helped?

P x

CJ said...

Beautiful words, a lovely post.

Katharine A said...

Lovely post. The Tower Poppies really have captured people's imagination. Important to remember but also to show the next generation. Had some amazing conversations with my kids. Thanks for sharing.

Candy Pop said...

A beautiful post and photos

Happy Homebird said...

Beautiful. My great grandmother was stationed at Le Havre as a cook. I would have loved to have met her.

Gillian said...

A beautiful, heartfelt post. Those poppies at the Tower move me every time. x

Things and Thoughts said...

Hi Katie! So glad to find your kind comment on my blog! Love the poem although my English isn't so good! But I think I can feel it and I saw the London Tower on tv, amazing, really...
Have a happy new week!

Rakel said...

so lovely!