Poppies… to remind us to remember

Poppies – Grandpa 1914…

Poppies, to remind us to remember.

My Grandpa was in the Royal Navy during the First World War.  He was injured and ‘invalided out’.  He suffered ‘brainstorms’.  As  a young child my memories of him are that I was not allowed to ‘run around’ near him, or make too much noise.

The war to end all wars.

…and Dad 1939

My Dad was also in the Royal Navy throughout the Second World War.  My sadness is that he is no longer here to talk to about it.  I can’t say much about his war as he never spoke of it.  Although I do know that he was ‘shelled’ and suffered injuries but that’s about it.

The Tower of London

In  November 2014 – we visited ‘The Weeping Window’ at the Tower of London.  It was poignant. https://www.paulcumminsceramics.com/  This was the beginning of four years’ of commemoration.

The ‘Weeping Window’ art  installation was commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of WW1 in 1914.  It had a profound impact. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Swept_Lands_and_Seas_of_Red  .

This set the tone.  The country remembered the huge sacrifice paid by so many.  We have so much to be grateful for – freedom and democracy.

The Tower by Night

Weeping Window, London 2014
Nightfall at the ‘Weeping Window’ Tower of London, 2014

And in the morning…

It was an emotional atmosphere as visitors filed, quietly along the walkway.  Night fell on the poppies.

And in the morning, the sun shone on the vibrant, red artwork.  The impact was magnified.

Weeping Window, London 2014
The sun rises on the ‘Weeping Window’ display at the Tower of London

The entire country caught poppy fever

Later in 2014 we visited St Mary’s church in Whitby and saw the Christmas Tree Festival.  It had a thought-provoking,  poppy-themed tree. It outshone its neighbours.

British Legion Poppy Christmas Tree
A striking British Legion Christmas tree on display at St Mary’s Church Christmas Tree Festival, Whitby 2014

And poppies in 2018…

Now poppies are appearing everywhere and rightly so.  All along the highways, on cars, dogs, houses and shops.

There are many thoughtful and creative ways to pay tribute to all those who did not return home from conflict.  Nottinghamshire village signs and lampposts are particularly vibrant as they catch the low, autumn sunlight.

Nottinghamshire village name signs with poppy
Nottinghamshire villages get their own extra large poppy

Even our house wears a poppy

Large poppy
Our house has its own personal poppy

As this four year period draws to a close, there will be many more commemorations.   Although when we think of poppies we generally think of the British Legion but it is not just poppies, for which https://britishlegion.org.uk

It provides support for the Armed Forces community – serving men and women, veterans, and their families.

Bright red Poppy transfers that look like tattoos

Not just poppies

It is not just poppies that will help us to remember this year.  A coordinated peel of bells across the country is planned https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nations-bells-to-ring-out-together-to-mark-armistice-centenary plus many services of remembrance.  I imagine that such events will see a greater attendance than in previous years.

Say goodbye on the beach

Melanie Hill, Jeremy Irons and Danny Boyle are marking the date by inviting people to gather on beaches around the UK – to say ‘Thank you and Goodbye’  https://seachangearts.org.uk/2018/11/jeremy-irons-invites-you-to-join-danny-boyle-and-thousands-of-people-on-11-november-to-mark-one-hundred-years-since-armistice-and-the-end-of-the-first-world-war-gather-on-gorleston-beach-and-beaches/

Or where it all began four years ago

‘Beyond the Deepening Shadow’ at the Tower of London https://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/explore/the-tower-remembers/#gs.xEJnvoM

I shall be with my grandsons

On this armistice day I will share it with my grandsons.  They will be representing the uniformed organisations at their village church.

I have a foot in the past and a stake in the future.

All we have to do is remember, that’s all

However we choose to remember it is important this year, more than most, that we continue to remember.

Poppies the symbol of Remembrance – to remind us to remember to be grateful to those who fought for our democracy and freedom – but did not come home.

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