Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Town Square and Remembering

One thing that is markedly different about being in England versus in the United States is the sense of closeness to the events of the two great wars.  Of course this makes sense because England is quite literally located much, much closer to where battles took place, and they fought longer.  The reminders of just how many young men were lost in World War I especially are graven in stone in the middle of every small town, making those events and the loss of that time period much more real to me than anything else has.

I'm not even sure I knew why we celebrated Veteran's Day on the second Monday of November until watching the Downton Abbey episode when the Armistice was signed and peace declared at 11:00 on November 11.  Ohhh....  Then I immediately understood the significance of the date we remember U.S. veterans.  I'm sure this must have been covered in history class somewhere along the way, but I never had a regular ceremony or reminder about the significance of the date to cement it in my memory.

Remembrance Day in the UK, observed on the Sunday instead of Monday, is a big deal.  The Remembrance Day service at St. James's is one of the most highly attended services.  It's followed by a ceremony in the town square that much of the town attends.  Individuals and groups lay out wreaths of poppies on the war memorial to remember those who fought in both wars.  There is a two-minute silence at the first stroke of eleven, a prayer offered, and a hymn sung.

We remember the events that had the biggest national impact.  In my experience, it most reminds me of services held in the United States around September 11.

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