On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War One ended. Ever since that day, the countries of the Commonwealth have observed Remembrance Day, where we remember those in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Since 1921, we have used the poppy as a memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict… a resilient flower which flourishes in the middle of chaos and destruction.
The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion‘s biggest fundraising campaign, held throughout this period of remembrance. The first appeal, held in 1921, saw funds from the sale of red silk poppies help World War 1 veterans find housing and employment after the war and it continues to help the new generation of veterans needing support. The Flanders Poppy was first described as the ‘Flower of Remembrance’ by Colonel John McCrae who wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ which is one of the most popular and quoted poems of the war.
I remember being shown a photo of a young man in uniform man by my Nana when I was very young. He had died in the First World War. I gave it a mere glance, not really understanding the concept or impact of war or the story that she was trying to tell me. I now have no idea who that man was or my relationship to him. What did he do in the war? What sort of life did he leave behind? When was he drafted to the front line?
Today I laid a poppy for my anonymous ancestor on Findmypast’s Remember Your Heroes website. I have also bought a poppy and my daughter was able to buy a remembrance poppy bracelet at school, showing that everyone can contribute to the poppy appeal.
If you haven’t yet bought a poppy, you may wish to make a donation directly to the Royal British Legion.
- Lives of the First World War
- Unpicking the past: revealing secrets in old military photographs
- The National Archives
- Poppy Appeal 2016