Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Marked by buglers playing The Last Post and The Rouse and by those attending keeping a two minutes silence.
It is observed on the 11th of November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month,” in accordance with the Armistice treaty signed between the major powers involved.
The day was specifically dedicated by King George V of the United Kingdom on 7th November 1919 as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I.
The red poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae . These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.
The “Ode of Remembrance" is an ode taken from Laurance Binyan’s poem, “For the Fallen”, which was first published in The Times newspaper in September 1914.
The fourth stanza of the poem has been claimed as a tribute to all casualties of war, regardless of state and are read out during memorial services on Remembrance day, the verse “We will remember them” repeated in response by those listening.
The central ritual at cenotaphs throughout the Commonwealth is a stylised night vigil. The Last Post was the common bugle call at the close of the military day, and the Rouse was the first call of the morning. For military purposes, the traditional night vigil over the slain was not just to ensure they were indeed dead and not unconscious or in a coma, but also to guard them from being mutilated or despoiled by the enemy, or dragged off by scavengers. This makes the ritual more than just an act of remembrance but also a pledge to guard the honour of war dead.
The act is enhanced by the use of dedicated cenotaphs (literally Greek for “empty tomb”) and the laying of wreaths—the traditional means of signalling high honours in ancient Greece and Rome.