Tag Archives: Remembrance Day

Remembrance and freedom in the Netherlands – Dodenherdenking and Bevrijdingsdag

Remembrance Day 4 + 5 May =  low-key affair, focussing on memorial services + parades at war memorials + military graveyards.

Liberation Day = Bevrijdingsdag = celebration of freedom => free festivals throughout the country

lighting of bevrijdingsvuur (Freedom Fire) = transition to a day of celebration commemorating liberation + celebrating freedom.

victims of Nazi persecution: Jews, Sinti, Roma + others

victims of Japanese camps in Indonesia

capitulation > City of Liberation > Wageningen Hotel de Wereld

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Voorgaande artikelen / Previous articles:

Religieuze feesten in mei 2016

Dodenherdenking. (Opinie)

Geef Vrijheid Door

Bevrijdingsdag Wine, Art & Jazz festival

May, for many a month for mothers and many celebrations

Integrated Expat - a British expat's views on Nijmegen, Arnhem & the Dutch

On 4 and 5 May every year, the Netherlands first remembers the sacrifices made by those who lost their lives, then celebrates the freedom those sacrifices made possible. Dodenherdenking (Remembrance Day) is a low-key affair, focussing on memorial services and parades at war memorials and military graveyards. Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day) is a celebration of freedom, with free festivals throughout the country. After a day of remembrance of those who gave their lives, the lighting of the bevrijdingsvuur (Freedom Fire) symbolises the transition to a day of celebration commemorating the liberation and celebrating freedom.

There are always many events surrounding both Remembrance Day and Liberation Day, particularly in the east of the Netherlands, so I will give some background information and pick out a few interesting things I discovered about this year’s celebrations in Gelderland. This year is the 70th anniversary of the official end of WWII, so many places have…

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The price of freedom

Those people who say they don’t want to remember the dead, nor celebrate the liberation of their country because “it’s not about them” do forget that it is about their own family , those who existed long before them and they who would come after them. It is because of those battle fought, the talks having taken place, the covenants being made, that we also thanks to the European Union do have a period of already 70 years with out a war in the Netherlands.

Also not wanting to remember all their struggles shows disrespect and proves the egoism which has taken its toll in this capitalist materialist world.

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To remember

paternal grandfather = adventurous + accomplished technical engineer, who traveled the world

WW2 => joined the resistance >> team betrayed => Nazi’s transported him to a concentration camp

By miracle, he lived to see the early days of May 1945 > survived bizarre allied bombing > passed away, only shortly upon his return to his family.

done his duty > fought for freedom

I agree we need to rewrite history + have a critical look at whose dead we commemorate + whose freedom we allow ourselves to celebrate – + at which cost.

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Preceding articles:

May, for many a month for mothers and many celebrations

Religious celebrations in May 2016

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Kirsten van den Hul

I never got to meet my paternal grandfather. From what I’ve been told, he seems to have been quite an amazing man. An adventurous and accomplished technical engineer, who traveled the world (wonder where I got that from ;-)) before settling down with his wife, my grandmother. Life looked good, he had a job, they bought a house, they were starting a family.

Then WW2 started.

Now he could have just done nothing when the Germans invaded his country. He simply could have kept on working as an engineer, trying to make ends meet in those difficult years and raise his two blue-eyed baby boys. But he didn’t. Instead, he joined the resistance.

I would have loved to be able to talk to him and ask him why he did that. If he ever was afraid. If his wife ever tried to dissuade him. If he ever worried about his…

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, Being and Feeling, Headlines - News, History, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

May, for many a month for mothers and many celebrations

At least the sun is showing it warmer rays and embraces us like mothers do. In several countries the month of May is the month where mothers are honoured. In several Catholic countries or regions the 15th of August is mothers day. (In our family the 15th of August was always that special day for coming together with the whole family honouring the mother who spent so much energy of her life in taking care of the next generation.)

In Dutch there  is the saying: “In mei leggen alle vogels een ei”, “in May all birds lay an egg” pointing out to the season where good thoughts and many new adventures get their start.

English: Brocken Spectre from the summit of Me...

Brocken Spectre from the summit of Meall an Fhudair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Walpurgisnacht or Heksennacht or Hexennacht (literally “Witches’ Night“) the night of 30 April,when the people in Northern Europe (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Estonia) remember how the witches came together at the Brocken spectre the highest peak in the Harz Mountains (3,747 ft or 1,142 m high), a range of wooded hills in north central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe. The Brocken spectre is a magnified shadow of an observer, typically surrounded by rainbow-like bands, thrown on to a bank of cloud in high mountain areas when the sun is low. The phenomenon was first reported on the Brocken.

In Germany the holiday is celebrated by dressing in costumes, playing pranks on people, and creating loud noises meant to keep evil at bay (You can compare it with Halloween). Many people also hang blessed sprigs of foliage from houses and barns to ward off evil spirits, or they leave pieces of bread spread with butter and honey, called ankenschnitt, as offerings for phantom hounds.

In Catholic countries many of those traditions are taken into the church rituals and people put ‘palm’ (buxus cuttings) around the house to protect their belongings.

People at a Vappu picnic in Kaivopuisto in 2008

In Finland Walpurgis Night and May Day are effectively merged into a single celebration that is usually referred to as Vappu and that is among the country’s four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Midsummer (Juhannus). It is the biggest carnival-style festival held in the streets of Finland’s towns and cities. Initially, Walpurgis Night was celebrated by the Finnish upper class. Then, in the late 19th century, students (particularly engineering students) took up its celebration.  Many lukio (university-preparatory high school) alumni (who are thus traditionally assumed to be university bound), wear a cap. One tradition is to drink alcoholic beverages, particularly sparkling wine or  sima, a home-made low-alcohol mead, along with freshly cooked funnel cakes

Children dancing around a maypole as part of a May Day celebration in Welwyn, England

Walpurgis Night bonfire in Sweden

In many regions it is a special month to celebrate the gods and to invoke their goodness.
May Day on May 1 is such an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday. After having looked at the witches and having hold ‘revels with the devil’, people now turn to their masters and gods of nature. In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge fires is still kept alive to celebrate the coming of May, while most parts of Germany have a derived Christianized custom around Easter called “Easter fires” (Osterfeuer).

In several villages the goddess of the flowers and of the renewal of nature is celebrated and Maypole dancing is part of the “Þrimilci-mōnaþ” or “Month of Three Milkings“. Also known as Ashtoria Day in northern parts of rural Cumbria people hope for nice weather to have a celebration of unity and female bonding.

In several places where there is water a Flower Boat Ritual is hold, like in Kingsand, Cawsand and Millbrook in Cornwall.

In Edinburgh, the Beltane Fire Festival is held on the evening of May eve and into the early hours of May Day on the city’s Calton Hill. An older Edinburgh tradition has it that young women who climb Arthur’s Seat and wash their faces in the morning dew will have lifelong beauty.

GentseFloralien_fleurmagazine.be2This year the Floralia Gent show or the 35th edition of Floralies took place from 22 April to 1 May 2016, in the Arts Quarter of Ghent (Citadelpark, Sint-Pietersplein, Leopoldskazerne and Bijlokesite) where flowers and plants intertwined with prestigious landmarks in the city.

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In the capital of Belgium it will be in the Summer that a carpet of 75m x 24 m brings 1,800 m2 of begonias, or around 300 cut flowers per m2! Every other summer, on the weekend of August 15th, the Flower Carpet offers a chance to stroll across the Grand-Place, a jewel of Gothic architecture, to inhale the fragrant scent of the begonias and admire its details. This extraordinary spectacle is made complete by a visit to the balcony of the Town Hall, which offers a wide-angle view of the work. A musical theme is especially composed for each edition. A concert is given on the Grand-Place every evening and accompanies a magnificent sound-and-light show. A hundred volunteers assemble the carpet in 4 hours. The first Flower Carpet of Brussels was created in 1971 and has been a showstopper every two years on the Grand-Place since 1986.

De socialistische bewegingen trekken door de straten. - Foto Rutger LievensVakbond ABVV | ActiesFor atheists or those who did not believe in gods the day, being a holiday was taken to come together to talk about our society and how work and family-time had to go together.  Labourers and the working classes are put in the picture that day. The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International, a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties, to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. { Foner, Philip S. (1986). May Day: A Short History of the International Workers’ Holiday, 1886–1986. New York: International Publishers. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-7178-0624-3.}

Various socialist and communist organisations hold parades in different cities on that day to react to what is going wrong in the country and for telling the politicians what is really needed for the people.

eerlijker is beter

After the 1st of May, labour day, when no labour is done for most of the people, they soon could find themselves either in a full week free (half term holiday or bank holiday) or could face a long free weekend starting with the 4th or Vetran Day or with the 5th of May (for Catholics the feast of Jesus bing taken up in the skies), in several countries the special “Cinco de Mayo“,  the Mexican army‘s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, followed by the May 8 “Mother’s Day” and on the 15th of May for many “Pentecost” followed by Pentecost Monday. In several countries one or the other day of the month is also taken to remember the war days and as such we had yesterday and today Remembrance and Veteran days plus on May 21 “Armed Forces Day” followed by May 30 for many countries another “Memorial Day”

In the Chinese Zodiac, 2016 is the year of the Monkey (Yang Water) whilst for the Native American Zodiac the 5th and 8th of May, 2016 shall fall under the Beaver.

Hope all you moms had fun today!

Moms to look at! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On that mother’s day, people can remember the birth of Harry S. Truman (US President), David Attenborough (British broadcaster), Sonny Liston (Boxer) and Enrique Iglesias (Singer). By that day of mothers, from the writing of this article, 345,600 seconds will have passed between now and the 8th of May, the earth having travelled approximately 178,329,600 miles through space whilst perhaps 4,147 meteors shall have entered the earth’s atmosphere.

We all have a special connection with our mother, she being the one who brought us unto this life. We can never never outgrow her and no one shall ever be able to deny the roots of that special person who is responsible that we are. It is to that person we should be grateful for what we are today. Your mother made you. Thanks to her you got an education, got to know things about yourself and those around you.

Often it are also those mothers who take care that there is plenty of food on such festivals as mentioned above. Mostly it are they who make the best of a special day by providing the best of food.

In a way every day of the year should be a mother’s day.
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Preceding articles: All things seem possible in May

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Further reading

  1. Floraliën Gent don’t miss out
  2. Floralies Ghent
  3. Anniversary: 20th Flower Carpet! An ephemeral show on the world’s most beautiful central square
  4. Celebrating the Netherland’s King’s Birthday.
  5. Best of days: 2016 May 8
  6. April Writing & Reading Goals Check (May Goals)
  7. Hello May
  8. 1 May: Blind, Unknowing, Zealous Jenny
  9. How Do You Set Your Goals?
  10. Monthly Goals
  11. May Goals. 1
  12. May Goals 2
  13. May Goals 3
  14. May Goals 4
  15. May 2016 Goals! 5
  16. May 2016 Goals 6
  17. May Goals 7
  18. May Savings with Georgine
  19. Mother’s Day Sentiments
  20. When Your Friend Is Grieving On Mother’s Day
  21. My mother is strong, fierce—and fragile
  22. Mom
  23. Before It Is Too Late
  24. 12 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts (that she’ll actually like)
  25. Mothers’ May – 5/4/16
  26. Writing Prompt Wednesday
  27. Mother’s Day Card 2016
  28. Clear the List: May 2016
  29. Change of Plans
  30. June Goals

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Poppy Day 2014

We like to present some photo’s from Remembrance Sunday of the poppies at The Tower of London, reminding that the poppy has been a symbol of remembrance in Britain since World War I. For them it reminds of death while in Belgium it reminds us of life. We can imagine those on the battle field, seeing all the dirty water and brown earth full of corpses, and then at spring those beautiful flowers coming up and giving a sign of life on that earth of dead.

When a poem from the era recalled the fragile flower melding with the dead in Flanders, Queen Elizabeth II observed the two-minute silence privately at the English ceremony.

The last few days several remembrance ceremonies also took place in Belgium in the medieval town of Ypres, where the buglers of the Last Post under the Menin Gate played their haunting tribute to the dead, but also in the cities of Liege, Mons and Leuven, were leaders from all over the world paid their tribute for the fallen.

Ever since the start of the centenary in August, the buglers at the massive gate have drawn large crowds of tourists and pilgrims. The gate’s vaulted ceiling lists the names of more than 54,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives during World War I and have no known grave.

Artificial "remembrance poppies" at ...

Artificial “remembrance poppies” at a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  • tower of london ceramic poppies (onenewspage.us)
    As the United Kingdom commemorates the lives of servicemen who paid the ultimate price in the Great War, the final poppy representing a fallen soldier was laid. In all, volunteers put in countless man hours to lay […]
  • Tower of London’s stunning poppy installation creates national sensation (washingtonpost.com)
    The poppy exhibition at the Tower of London has become a national sensation, with some 4 million people expected to have seen it by the time the last of the 888,246 poppies — one for every Commonwealth soldier who died in the First World War — is planted on Nov. 11, the day the war ended in 1918. The throngs of onlookers were so thick this past weekend that organizers asked visitors to postpone their trip.While the Great War is not on the minds of many Americans, here it remains profoundly relevant. The government has pledged $80 million for four years of events to commemorate the centenary. There have already been numerous official and non-official events — new books, plays, museum exhibitions, a massive “lights out” event — but the popularity of the “Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red” poppy installation stands out.
  • Army Cadet honoured by laying final poppy at Tower of London on Armistice Day (telegraph.co.uk)
    French President Francois Hollande laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier under Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Later, he will head to northern France to inaugurate an international war memorial at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in the presence of German, British and Belgian officials. The Ring of Memory carries the names of 600,000 soldiers who died in the region during the war. Names are listed alphabetically without their nationalities.
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    In Britain, thousands gathered at the Tower of London, where a blood-red sea of ceramic poppies has spilled into the moat as part of an art installation paying tribute to soldiers killed in the fighting.
    A 13-year-old army cadet, Harry Hayes, planted the final poppy – the last of the 888,246 glass flowers – one for each of the British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the war. Among the dead was Hayes’ great-great-great uncle, Pvt. Patrick Kelly of the 1st Battalion, Irish Guards.”It is an amazing honor,” Hayes told Sky News. “Seeing all these poppies and I managed to plant the last one.”
  • New First World War memorial unveiled in France remembers those who perished on both sides (ww1.canada.com)
    The morning sun picks out and burnishes hundreds of thousands of names engraved on an ellipse of tall and regimented golden metal sheets. It rises to salute the Asbachs and Behrens, Bartons and Beastons, the Adolfs and Alfreds, Roberts and Johns, the Georges and the Jean-Baptistes slaughtered in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais during the Great War.They are all remembered in the compelling new International Memorial of Notre Dame de Lorette, a “Ring of Remembrance” at Ablain-Saint-Nazaire north-west of Arras.

    Among so many German, French and British names, my fingers trace that of Gabar Sing Negi VC, 21, of the 2/39th Garwhal Rifles. Born and raised in sight of the Himalayas, he died 6,400 kilometres from home in what soldiers on all sides called the “cemetery” of Flanders and the Artois, and news reporters as “Hell in the North”.
    French chief of staff General Benoit Puga walks along the Memorial, Tuesday Nov. 11, 2014, during the inauguration of the International Memorial of Notre Dame de Lorette, where the names of the 580,000 soldiers who died in northern France during WW1 are listed alphabetically without nationality or rank. The First World War military cemetery of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette is located in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, northern France. Francois Hollande hosted German and British officials for Armistice Day events in Paris and northern France, as Europe marks the centenary of the First World War with an emphasis on unity and cooperation.

  • 100 Years: Armistice Day in London (annecarolinedrake.com)
    Because it is difficult for most of us to wrap our heads around the millions of people who died during WWI, set designer Tom Piper created Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red.  Ceramic artist Paul Cummin and legions of volunteers created 888,246 hand-made, individualized poppies to serve as tribute to each British Commonwealth soldier who died during WWI.Spill of poppies from the Tower of London

     

Echoes of the Past

Photos’s from our visit last Sunday of the poppies at The Tower of London.  The fade photo of the young man with his brother is James Martin, my uncle who died in WW2 in Holland just before the end of the war, it was his 21st birthday.  This is the only photograph there is of this brave young man and he was my mothers big brother, whom she loved dearly.  The photo of his headstone was taken in Holland some 40 years ago, I have visited his grave twice and what was lovely is that families in Holland used to look after a grave of a soldier.  I’m not sure if this happens anymore, but it was wonderful being taken by the family to see the grave.

The other photos of a WW1 solider is my Mother’s father, also James Martin, he survived the war, but was shot in the…

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by | 2014/11/13 · 5:28 pm

In Flanders Fields II – a new poem in response to the original

Each year in Europe first they have November 1 and 2 and then 11 when suddenly graves have to be cleaned , flowers to be put on the graves and services are held to remember the deceased.

November the 11th takes a special place because then not only the dead are remembered but also those who nearly lost their life or those whose life came to a standstill or got broken for ever, though not many are conscious about that damage done in the deepest of their heart.

On Remembrance Day or Armistice day we want to remember that war came to an end, but many forget war is still going on in many countries. Many families all over the world are torn by grief. A never ending sorrow has come over humanity.

100 years after the beginning of the Great War we should seriously reconsider how we want to solve the world problems and would seriously work for getting peace to be something everybody in the world can share.

Who we take the time to reflect on the cost of our freedom is around that time the issue of the day, but for the rest of the year, we largely take that freedom for granted.

Bryan Ens reacted on the current situation with the original poem, by penned by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915 the day following the death of his friend, Alexis Helmer, in his mind.

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Preceding articles:

Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on

Reflections on the Great War #2

On Veteran’s Day

Janice Brittain’s music version of In Flanders fields

On the 11th hour…

Remembrance isn’t only about those who fought, but also those who refused

Too Young To Fight?

Royal British Legion poppy

Royal British Legion poppy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  • Soldiers’ real stories are the best defence against Remembrance Day conditioning | Paul Daley (theguardian.com)
    This year, yet again, the keepers of our national myths will tell us that the soldiers of the “Great War” have passed from life into our collective memory.Some of us knew a first world war soldier. But, a century after the war began, for most of us who’ll stop today to mark a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, the soldiers of the first world war long ago passed into – or always have been part of – our imaginations rather than our memories.

    Good men, all, and brave too, we have long been assured, were those who were “lost” to the war. The fog of hindsight has inaccurately rendered them a rarefied, almost saintly, generation, whose terrible experiences have become cloaked in benign euphemism and cliché.

  • Remembrance Day (wattlerangenow.com.au)
    From a population of under five million; 417,000 enlisted, 332,000 served overseas, 152,000 were wounded and 61,000 never came home.
    It was sacrifice on a stupendous scale.
    After the Armistice, we vowed never to forget and today, we renew that vow.
  • Palmer dismisses Lambie over Remembrance Day Coalition snub (sbs.com.au)
    The Tasmanian Senator has urged the public to turn their backs on any Coalition politicians speaking at Remembrance Day commemorations, as a protest against a wage offer made to Australian Defence Force members.”This Remembrance Day I invite all Australians, including our Veterans, to turn their backs on Government members if they are silly enough to give speeches, pretending that they care for our military families,” she said.

    “Their actions regarding defence pay clearly show that they don’t care or they are cowards.”

  • Final Tower of London poppy ‘planted’ on Armistice Day (onenewspage.us) (video)
    A young army cadet lays the final poppy at the Tower of London as Britain marks an especially poignant Armistice Day, 100 years since the start of the First World War.
  • Jessica Murphy – DC honours Great War, Remembrance Day (sunnewsnetwork.ca)
    The brainchild of the British Embassy in the U.S. capital, a Sunday service to commemorate Remembrance Day at the Washington National Cathedral brought together countries on both sides of the First World War.”On the centennial it seemed appropriate to try to do it on a bigger canvas and bring in as many and to involve as many of the nations who had a key role in the war as possible,” said British Major General Buster Howes.

    “As much as anything it’s in the spirit of reconciliation, those who fought in 1914 are now, largely speaking, allies and friends.”

  • Former PM Howard to mark Remembrance Day (news.com.au)
    Liberal MP Sharman Stone, whose Victorian electorate of Murray had six Victoria Cross recipients in WWI, has encouraged people to pause at 11am and remember those who suffered or died during wars. “It is just as important to think about those who are serving our country overseas now. We still have troops in Afghanistan who are helping the Afghan army and we have troops on advise-and-assist roles in Iraq,” she said.
  • Remembrance Day across Quebec (cbc.ca)
    “I’m glad to see so many people turn out,” said Jason MacCallum, a former military reservist. “I think it’s the largest crowd I’ve seen in years actually out today.”In St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, about 1,500 soldiers and observers took part in an emotional commemoration.
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    More than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in the war.

    Approximately 66,000 died and 172,000 were wounded.

  • Lest We Forget (collinesblog.com)
    During my first year in in the city, I never understood why people wore red flowers on the lapels of their coats. It was only after a few years that I came to understand. The moment of understanding was definitely the case of children teaching the adult: my children were able to explain to me why they came home bringing the imitations of the red flowers with them as they had been taught the reasons at school.
  • Australia Marks 96th Anniversary Of The End Of World War One (realnewsone.com)
    When the Great War started Australia had a population of under five million. 417,000 Australians enlisted, 332,000 served overseas, 152,000 were wounded and 61,000 never came home.
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    In related news Clive Palmer has criticised Jackie Lambie for wanting to use Remembrance Day as a political protest against the Government for the appalling wage offer and stripping back of the army’s conditions. Mr Palmer has said “All Australians, particularly politicians, should show the utmost respect on RemembranceDay. It is never a day for political actions”
  • Remembrance Day (edwardbrainblog.wordpress.com)
    If you are grateful for the freedoms we enjoy in Canada, thank a veteran.
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    Canada remembers the sacrifices of all our military personnel, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Your duty and sacrifice will not be forgotten.
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  • In Flanders Fields II – a new poem in response to the original
    One of the great poems. We honor the great Poets by reading their words.
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    A Sergeant Joyce Kilmer poem and one of my poems.

Quest for Whirled Peas

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
Is heard on each Remembrance Day
And on that day, with heads bowed low
We think of those who fought the foe
“We will remember”, we all say

Yet in that pose, we do not stay
And soon enough we walk away
To let forgotten poppies blow
In Flanders Fields

Those young men died, so that today
In freedom we can work and play
They paid a hefty price, and so
Let’s not forget the debt we owe
To those who will forever stay
In Flanders Fields

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The original poem, by penned by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915 the day following the death of his friend, Alexis Helmer.

In Canada, his poem is read at Remembrance Day services (November 11) each year.  My poem was written in response to the fact that for one day out of each year, we take the…

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Janice Brittain’s music version of In Flanders fields

Page 1 of the introduction from a limited edit...

Page 1 of the introduction from a limited edition book containing an illustrated poem, In Flanders Fields, 1921 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A beautiful poem by John McCrae, set to an original musical composition Janice Brittain wrote in 2013 and re-recorded this year for the 100th year anniversary of WWI.

 


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In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fieldsLieutenant Colonel John McCrae*

 

For many English speaking countries poppies are a sign for death, but in Flanders the poppy is a sign of conquering life.
When the grass, weeds or flowers are taken away from a place the first thing which seems to come up and give colour again on the land is the poppy. Out of the gruesomeness it is there to give a nice vivid colour giving hope for what still shall come and giving proof that life is stronger than everything that wants to silence it.

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol...

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol of remembrance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A war with an end

Remember

  • soldiers who have served and fallen, especially those who served in World War One.
  • Veterans Day began as a peace celebration on November 11, 1918, with the end of the pitiless conflict known as World War One.
  • signing of a multinational peace agreement, or Armistice, triggered massive spontaneous jubilees in many places worldwide.  In Europe, the States, Canada, even New Zealand and Australia, vast crowds gathered in the ceremonial centers of cities to cheer the end of a struggle that had cost the warring nations many millions of lives.
  • Once US had entered the war: Over a million men were mobilized >  By the end of the war, 18 months later, American forces had suffered some 320,000 casualties, the majority being wounded, with tens of thousands being lost to death and disease.
  • Being at war demanded something from all society, taxing the economy to its limits and requiring sacrifice on the part of civilians, as the signs around the Philadelphia square suggest.

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  • US Pays Annual Tribute to Military Veterans (voanews.com)
    A free concert in Washington broadcast around the world capped off the Veterans Day celebration in the United States.

    Hundreds of thousands came out for the first-ever Concert for Valor, featuring such superstars as Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and Eminem.

    The concert was aimed at raising awareness of the problems American servicemen and servicewomen face when they return home and leave the military.

    One disabled Vietnam War veteran said the show marked the first time he’d ever felt honored for his service.

    The show climaxed a day of events across the country saluting U.S. veterans of all wars.

  • A Huge Collection Of Photographs From World War One (youviewed.com)
    Canadian machine gunners dig themselves in, in shell holes on Vimy Ridge.
    See all 89 pictures at American Heroes
  • In Flanders Fields and Other Poems of Remembrance Day (teleread.com)
    The poppy has become a symbol of remembrance in Canada, and most schoolchildren have the poem memorized by the time they finish primary school.

    I was interested to note that when I spent the year in New Zealand—a fellow Commonwealth country—many moons ago for graduate school, they had a different poem for their Remembrance Day services. “For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon was their standard.

  • Is There a Better Way To Observe Veterans Day? (defenseone.com)
    This year’s Veterans Day is particularly significant, accompanying not just the centenary of World War I, but also the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. It is also the first U.S. military holiday since the Obama administration launched a new offensive, however limited, against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Such circumstances would seem to call for contemplation of the costs and consequences of conflict. And yet, as on every Veterans Day, many Americans will do little or nothing to commemorate the occasion.
  • Is There a Better Way to Observe Veterans Day? (theatlantic.com)
    In the United Kingdom and Canada, people customarily wear a red poppy—a nod to the poppies that dotted the battlefields of the First World War—on their jacket lapel or blouse on Armistice Day in tribute to those who have died in military service. In a nationwide survey of adults by Viewsbank, a U.K. consumer-research firm, more than 80 percent of respondents said that they planned to wear the poppy this year. In Canada, more than half of the population usually wears the poppy, according to the Royal Canadian Legion. The U.K. and Canada also observe a two-minute moment of silence at 11 a.m. on November 11 (as with Veterans Day in the U.S., the British and Canadian holidays mark the World War I armistice of November 11, 1918)—a practice that workplaces and schools follow across both countries. In Russia, many people observe a minute of silence on May 9 (Russia’s Victory Day, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe) as it is broadcast on television and radio stations, according to Natalia Moroz of the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Washington, D.C. Israelis observe moments of silence on Yom HaShoah (Holocaust remembrance day) and Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day), with drivers going so far as to pull over to the side of the road and stand at attention as sirens sound across the country.
  • Veterans Day is one confusing holiday (stripes.com)
    yes, it is a holiday — unlike some of those quasi-holiday observances we sometimes confuse with the real deal, such as Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween. Veterans Day is a federal holiday. However, it is not a holiday that everybody takes.
    +
    Now, what is the correct way to write this holiday? Is it

    A. Veteran’s Day
    B. Veterans’ Day
    C. Veterans Day

    The correct answer is C. Veterans Day. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explains that if the word were to have an apostrophe it would imply the day belongs to a single veteran (Veteran’s) or all veterans (Veterans’). But the holiday is not possessed by anybody. It is a holiday to honor veterans — therefore it is plural (Veterans).

  • Armistice Day (phylor.wordpress.com)
    Before WWII, most nations had renamed the day. In 1931, the United States made November 11th All Veterans Day, then shortened to Veterans Day.

    It is a day to remember veterans; those who have served and continue to serve their country. At 11:00 am, many nations observe a minute or two of silence in honour.
    +

  • Meaning of Veterans Day (onenewspage.us)
    The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War i when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words: veteran’s give up a 3 lot to serve our country — how do they feel about our celebration of veteran’s day? how has america’s treatment of veteran’s changed over the YEARS?Veterans have been treated very differently depending on the way in which they fought.For example — after the Vietnam War, veterans were treated very badly, since public opinion of the war was so low.

Susan Barsy

Massive crowds gathered around a replica of the Statue of Liberty near Philadelphia's city hall to celebrate news of the Armistice, November 11, 1918.
On this day, many nations pause to remember their war dead, the soldiers who have served and fallen, especially those who served in World War One.

What the US celebrates as Veterans Day began as a peace celebration on November 11, 1918, with the end of the pitiless conflict known as World War One.  The announcement that the war had ended with the signing of a multinational peace agreement, or Armistice, triggered massive spontaneous jubilees in many places worldwide.  In Europe, the States, Canada, even New Zealand and Australia, vast crowds gathered in the ceremonial centers of cities to cheer the end of a struggle that had cost the warring nations many millions of lives.

This marvelous photograph shows Philadelphians celebrating the word of peace that day.  Horrible as the war was, the photograph conveys a feeling of pride, even as it commemorates a sort of war unfamiliar to…

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Filed under History, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs, World affairs

Reflections on the Great War #2

Today 11 November Remembrance day many grieve for those who were lost in war. It is a day we think of all the violence which still goes on in this world. Lots of men went through a horrific war, and when they came back in heir family they often were broken and could not find their way back in normal life. Many did not have any clue of what they had to endure. Today the madness still goes on at several places on this globe.

In this world there are people who want to divide and others who want to heal. All people should try to get others to see that it has no use to fight and that wars are the worst tragedy that can come over the world, war bringing many countries in agony, because of some man their love for power.

More people should come to understand that we can only improve the world by improving the Faith and that we should not put off for tomorrow what we can do today.

 

In the November issue of the Christadelphian is spoken about

  • 100 years ago
  • Studies in Matthew’s Gospel 11 – “That it might be fulfilled …” | John Benson
  • The ministry of reconciliation | Geoff Henstock
  • Archaeology in focus 11 – Horses & riders | James Andrews
  • Reflections on the Great War (2) | Les Shears
  • Bible Companion | John Hingley
  • Enhancing our worship Suggestions for November | John Botten
  • The purpose of the Ecclesia 09 – The Ecclesia as the flock part 2 | Peter Anderton & Paul Tovell
  • Electronic Hymn book
  •  “Until seventy times seven” | Stephen Whitehouse
  • Faith Alive! Seeing the invisible | Paul Dredge
  • Book Review Beginning at Jerusalem by John M. Hellawell | Stephen Whitehouse
  • Signs of the times Russia: strong enough to act? | Roger Long
  • Israel and their Land Parting the land | Roger Long
  • Epilogue  “Examine yourselves … test yourselves” | David Caudery
  • The brotherhood near and far

and can you find this 2° article on the Great War:

Reflections on the Great War

On August 4, 1914, the British government issued an ultimatum to Germany, demanding that their troops leave neutral Belgium. Germany had declared war on France the previous day and had begun the invasion of Belgium as a precursor to the planned encirclement of Paris. Following the rejection of the ultimatum, Britain declared war on Germany at 11 pm.

The war begins

The British, Belgian and American lines of att...

The British, Belgian and American lines of attack, during the Hundred Days Offensive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many greeted this action with enthusiasm, convinced that the war was a just cause and that it would soon be brought to a successful conclusion. However, as Brother John Botten pointed out in his introductory article (Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on), while the Royal Navy was supposedly far superior to any other navy, the British army was far smaller than the vast armies of continental Europe and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) which set off for Belgium numbered only around 120,000. If the British were to make more than a token contribution to the land war then the established principle of a volunteer army might have to be overturned. This was even more apparent by the end of August, following the battles of Mons and Le Cateau where the BEF had sustained heavy casualties and, along with the French army, been forced into a long retreat by vastly superior German forces. On September 5 (by which time the Germans had reached the River Marne and were threatening Paris), newly appointed Secretary of War, Lord Kitchener, called for 100,000 volunteers and over the next week some 175,000 enlisted. News of German atrocities committed against Belgian civilians was eagerly seized on by a jingoistic press and helped in this process. Although the German army was forced back from the Marne, much fighting lay ahead in 1914 before the front line was stabilized – roughly along a line running north from Noyon past Arras and around Ypres to the Belgian coast, and east and south to the Swiss frontier. By the end of the year the British, French and Belgians had suffered a combined total of over 1,000,000 killed, wounded or missing, the vast majority of them French. The BEF’s ability to function had been severely compromised; more and more men would be required. There was still no suggestion of any immediate need for conscription, but public opinion was becoming increasingly ‘hawkish’.

22 August 1914: "A" Company of the 4...

22 August 1914: “A” Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, resting in the town square at Mons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things had not gone well at sea either and elements of the German fleet had bombarded towns along the east coast, notably Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby, causing over 700 casualties. One victim of those bombardments was Brother Ripley of Whitby, whose house was practically destroyed by a shell, although he escaped injury.

Objection to military service

How did the brotherhood respond to the outbreak of war and its progress over the first six months? It would be good to be able to report that there was unanimity, but alas, that was not the case. Indeed, there was not even agreement as to whether we should petition government to register our conscientious objection to military service. There are lessons here for us all.

William Ewart Gladstone Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in office 15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894

William Ewart Gladstone Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in office 15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894

The cabinet had first discussed the necessity of conscription for all males aged 18-40 back in 1875, prompting Brother Robert Roberts to suggest that “a petition to Parliament might not be without advantage”. [1] No lesser figure than William Gladstone agreed to present the petition, only for disagreements within the brotherhood about the timing of the petition to surface and it was abandoned. In 1903, perhaps prompted by the South African War, a petition signed by about forty ecclesias was prepared but not presented. Almost immediately after the declaration of war in 1914 the issue again raised its head within the community. [2] On August 13, 1914, a meeting attended by almost 1,000 persons was held at the Temperance Hall in Birmingham. The following resolutions were passed with “practical unanimity”:

“‘That this meeting records its unshaken conviction that the commandments of Christ forbid the bearing of arms and bloodshedding.’

‘That in the present state of the nation it is not desirable to present a petition praying exemption from the bearing of arms.’

‘That we agree to the form of petition that has been presented and place it on record for possible use hereafter.’”

At the same time it was noted that there was some objection to clause 7, “for reasons which need not now be stated”. [3]

The reasons for delay in registering our position with the government are difficult to fathom. There was obviously a concern that any petition should not appear to be prompted merely by any current conflict, but there does appear to have been a degree of complacency when there was no immediate threat.

Facing a time of trial

If there seemed to be agreement about our objection to military service, there was considerable disagreement about what brothers and sisters could or should do in the event of war. The original wording of clause 7 was:

“That the conscientious objection of your petitioners does not extend to strictly non-combatant branches of National Service, but only to those which involve the bearing of arms or resort to force.”

Apparently, the author of this clause intended it to mean that brothers would have no objection to work of national value in a civil capacity not involving an oath of allegiance, but it is easy to see how the wording could be misconstrued and lead to future problems. The clause was omitted from the petition that was finally presented. Nonetheless, this remained a difficult area. An article entitled, “Our Plain Duty” appeared in the September edition of The Christadelphian. The author was clear that “we may neither bear arms nor use violence”, but he went on to write:

“In free civil life brethren may be found employed about munitions of war, for in this century nearly everything can be, and is, put to military use; therefore to work in a non-combatant capacity under conscription cannot rightly be called an outrage on our faith and practice. There are already some of us who, from good Samaritan motives, are now volunteering medical, and nursing, and other kindred service …”

It may well be that almost anything could be used in the war effort, but it is concerning to read of one meeting welcoming a brother whose work “at Vickers’ gun factory” had brought him to the area. [4] How could such employment be considered appropriate?

It is easy to sit back and criticise those who were volunteering for medical work, as service in the Royal Army Medical Corps did involve taking the oath of allegiance and working under military direction. However, we should try take into account the atmosphere in which this was taking place. The government had been quick to claim that we were fighting in a just cause and pressures came on every side – the press, public opinion and even employers. We can get an idea of the sort of pressures that existed by looking at an extract from an article entitled, “Our Attitude Towards War” published in The Fraternal Visitor in October 1914:

“If ever any war were justifiable, this is one, which, from our point of view, is just … But even so, we, as Brethren in Christ, can take no hand even in this war. Not that we wish others to fight our battles; we do not. Many of us younger brethren feel so convinced of the soundness of our cause that, apart from religious scruples, we desire to take up arms on behalf of our country and in defence of all that we hold dear.” [5]

Even with a clear understanding of our duty towards God, it is evident that this was indeed a most difficult situation and not all were able to resist the instinct alluded to in the article. Thus, Sheffield (Suffolk Street) Ecclesia reported that a brother and two senior members of Sunday School had joined the RAMC, [6] while others went further and enlisted for the duration in fighting units. There are reports of this happening at Newport, Northampton, Kidderminster and York. [7] At York the brother was withdrawn from and this led to three further withdrawals, but, it appears that he had a change of heart and was able to extricate himself from the army and all were eventually restored to fellowship. [8] In other instances there was an expression of sadness and a wish that in the not too distant future they could be welcomed home again. It is difficult to be certain of the fate of all who joined up, but it seems that at least one of those brothers did not survive the conflict. [9]

The weapons of our warfare

English: French soldiers waiting assault behin...

French soldiers waiting assault behind a ditch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was appropriate that the Editorial section of The Christadelphian in November 1914 commenced with a short piece entitled, “The Weapons of our Warfare”. It began by citing 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

 

“Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

It concluded, “If we have faith in Christ we shall eschew carnal weapons and confine ourselves to ‘the sword of the Spirit’ and ‘the whole armour of God.’ If we have not faith we may ‘take the sword and perish with the sword’, as Christ has said”. [10]

Les Shears

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[1] The Christadelphian, 1878, page 85.

[2] As Brother John pointed out in his article, Lincoln Ecclesia had already had correspondence with some MPs on the subject.

[3] The Christadelphian, 1914, page 422.

[4] The Christadelphian, 1915, pages 85,86.

[5] The Fraternal Visitor, 1914, page 286. The article itself runs from pages 285-289.

[6] The Fraternal Visitor, 1914, page 346.

[7] The Fraternal Visitor, 1914, page 376; The Christadelphian, 1914, pages 525,565,566.

[8] The Christadelphian, 1915, page 189.

[9] It appears that he died of wounds at a field hospital in Merville, France on July 9, 1917.

[10] The Christadelphian, 1914, page 505.

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Preceding article: Reflections on the Great War #1

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Why not subscribing to an inspirational magazine for all interested in a good Christian lifestyle?

The Christadelphian magazine reflects the teachings, beliefs and activities of the Christadelphians – groups of believers living in most countries in the world.

The Christadelphian magazine 150th anniversary

***
Do you not yet know the Christadelphians?

Come to get to know more about the Christadelphians.Do find an overview of what Christadelphian people think, live and want to follow up.

Read more about them in :

  1. Who are the Christadelphians
  2. What are Brothers in Christ
  3. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  4. Review of the Christadelphians from some older articles
  5. Loving the Word
  6. Agape, a love to share with others from the Fruit of the Spirit
  7. Servant of his Father
  8. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  9. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews

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Please find additional reading:

  1. All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting… George Orwell
  2. August 4, 1914 to be remembered
  3. 11 November, a day to remember #1 Until Industrialisation
  4. 11 November, a day to remember #2 From the Industrialisation
  5. 100° birthday of war and war tourism
  6. 1914 – 2014 preparations
  7. Liège 2014 remembering the Great War
  8. Mons 2014 remembering the Great War
  9. Friendship and Offer for the cause of democracy
  10. Juncker warns for possible new war
  11. Balfour Declaration of 1917 remembered
  12. Maker of most popular weapon asks for repentance
  13. Kingdom of God, a journey
  14. Which man is mentioned most often in the Bible? Jesus, Moses, Abraham or David?
  15. More Mexicans start questioning Catholic doctrine and the concept of the Trinity
  16. Improving the world by improving the Faith
  17. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today
  18. The world Having to face a collective failure
  19. Anti-church movements and Humanism
  20. Are you religious, spiritual, or do you belong to a religion, having a faith or interfaith
  21. Do you believe in One god
  22. Looking for something or for the Truth and what it might be and self-awareness
  23. People Seeking for God 5 Bread of life
  24. How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice
  25. Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up
  26. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #4 Mozaic and Noachide laws
  27. Tapping into God’s Strength by Waiting on Him
  28. Come ye yourselves apart … and rest awhile (Mark 6:31)
  29. Faith because of the questions
  30. A rebellious movement founded on a fake?
  31. Flowing out from a genuine spiritual “heart”
  32. Believing what Jesus says

 

 

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You may find on WordPress additional literature:

  1. 100 years on – we remember
  2. Armistice Day, 100 years after
  3. A Century On – Remember The Fallen
  4. A WW1 Centenary Image
  5. Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red…
  6. In Flander’s Fields…
  7. In Flanders’ Fields
  8. In Flanders Fields, by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1915)
  9. In Flanders Field, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
  10. Sable – The Green Fields of France
  11. 11-11-11
  12. Armistice Day
  13. Veterans / Remembrance Day 2014
  14. Spotlight on Remembrance Sunday
  15. Poppy Day vs Pocky Day?
  16. Poppy Day
  17. Poppy Day by Paul Hunter
  18. Poppy Day: 11/11
  19. The Poppy’s Bonfire.
  20. In Rememberance….Postcards from the Past
  21. Remembrance Day 1
  22. Remembrance Day 2
  23. Remembrance 3
  24. remembrance 4
  25. Rememberence day 5
  26. Remembrance day 6
  27. Remembrance Day 2014 1
  28. Remembrance Day 2014 2
  29. Remembering
  30. Remembrance Day (With a insight to my family and the Great Wars)
  31. Remembering my father on November 11
  32. Remembrance Hill
  33. November 11, Remembrance Day in Ypres (Belgium)
  34. 11.11.14 Lest we Forget
  35. Lest we forget 1
  36. Lest We Forget 2
  37. Lest We Forget 3
  38. Lest we forget: Harper’s war on Canadian rights and freedoms
  39. Lest we forget, message from the Minister of Veterans Affairs; City of Edmonton to hold Remembrance Day Services
  40. Lest We Forget – A Peace Remembered
  41. Europe remembers Armistice Day with ceremonies
  42. Peace
  43. A day of remembrance, a day of celebration too
  44. The price of freedom
  45. Freedom and the Importance of Remembrance
  46. Will we take responsiblity for our freedom and democracy?
  47. Poem for Armistice Day 11 11 2014
  48. This Tranquil Fields of Slumber
  49. The Parade
  50. Like the generations of leaves…
  51. Red Poppies
  52. One Of Many – Remembrance Day
  53. Remembrance Day Poppies at the Tower of London
  54. Remembrance Day: A Tribute To Our Brave Soldiers…
  55. Poppy ‘s up, November the 11th today, Montana Hotel for our Heros
  56. Poppy Day 2014
  57. Thoughts of poppies and absent friends
  58. The Remembrance Sunday Parade Setting Off, Bethlehem Street, Grimsby, 09/11/14.
  59. Remembering the Fallen on Veteran’s Day
  60. Hamilton honours fallen hometown soldier Nathan Cirillo
  61. Two Minutes
  62. Poppies
  63. Pixel Prose Challenge: Poppy Pride
  64. Remembrance Sunday: The Poppy Factory
  65. Remembrance Sunday poppies…
  66. Poppy, Poppies, and Others
  67. Please don’t remove the Tower poppies
  68. A Lily Warne poppy and other Dartmoor connections
  69. Prince Harry Rides Double Decker Bus for Poppy Day
  70. LaSalle honours and remembers veterans on Remembrance Day
  71. Video Southwold Memorial Service
  72. 100 Years Ago
  73. This year, I will wear a poppy for the last time
  74. Full Pundit: How Canada remembers
  75. Photos: Canada remembers
  76. In Photos: Winnipeg remembers
  77. Maple Leaf Journal – 11/11 Remembrance Day
  78. A Poppy for Armistice Day from a ‘Small’ Cat…
  79. November 11, 2014
  80. Twa Corbies for Poppy Day
  81. …remembrance day, patriotism for the profits of war…
  82. Happy Veterans/Remembrance Day everyone
  83. We will remember them – British Legion service
  84. Satire in the saddest of times
  85. Appreciation on Remembrance Day
  86. Watercolor: Remembrance Poppies
  87. My first post– about the Last Post
  88. To remember you have to know
  89. For the Fallen ~ Robert Laurence Binyon
  90. Remembrance Sunday
  91. Poppy politics
  92. World War I Memorial, Part Two
  93. Warriors Day
  94. The Tale of Two Poppies
  95. CyPix: Ames Ambulance Unit
  96. Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), stiched portrait, finished
  97. Veterans Day: An Origin Story
  98. The Teenage Soldiers of WWI
  99. Four Places to Discover World War I History
  100. Was fashion responsible for the outbreak of the First World War?
  101. What Soldiers Read
  102. Veterans Day And Remembrance Day Are Marked Across The Globe

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  • The Eight Birmingham brothers who served in World War One – and all came home (birminghammail.co.uk)
    Birmingham has a proud tradition of answering the call from King and Country in both World Wars. Huge sacrificeswere made. Justine Halifax tells the heart-warming – and heart-breaking tale of Corporal James Fair, his eight sons, grandsons, and great grandsons, who all served in the forces.“The last of the fighting Fairs is dead” – is how the passing of the eighth son of Birmingham’s Corporal James Fair was reported in the Birmingham Mail’s predecessor newspaper 60 years ago.
  • Armistice Day 2014: We remember them – 100 years on (dorsetecho.co.uk)
    The 1st Battalion would have a long andeventfulwar – all of it on the Western Front. From the start, they were present when the BEFfirstencountered the German Army at Mons and through the long and exhausting retreat that followed, via another clash at LeCateau.In the following year, they experienced one of the first poison gas attacks at Hill 60, on the Ypres Salient.They then suffered appalling casualties at Authuille Wood on July 1, 1916 – the notorious first day of the Battle of the Somme.
  • The Road to Ypres (oup.com)

    We have celebrated the fumbling British skirmishes at Mons and Le Cateau in late August, but largely forgotten the French triumph at the Battle of the Marne which first stemmed and threw back the German wheeling attack through Belgium into Northern France under the Schlieffen Plan. We have already bypassed the spirited Franco-British attempts at the Battle of the Aisne in September to take the Chemin des Dames. The Race to the Sea was under way: the British and German Armies desperately trying to turn their enemy’s northern flank.

    Throughout, the performance of the British Expeditionary Force has often been exaggerated. Imaginative accounts of Germans advancing in massed columns and being blown away by rapid rifle fire are common. A rather more realistic assessment is that the British infantry were steadfast enough in defence, but unable to function properly in coordination with their artillery or machine guns. The Germans seemed to have a far better grip of the manifold disciplines of modern warfare.

  • Still bearing the scars of war, the beautiful landscapes which were once the scene of some of World War One’s bloodiest fighting (dailymail.co.uk)
    The collection, called Fields of Battle-Lands of Peace 14-18, form an open-air exhibition featuring 60 freestanding photographs, each measuring 1.2 metres (4ft) by 1.8 metres (5ft 10in).
  • Liveblogging World War I: October 20, 1914 The First Battle of Ypres (delong.typepad.com)

    Strategically located along the roads leading to the Channel ports in Belgian Flanders, the Belgian city of Ypres had been the scene of numerous battles since the sixteenth century.  With the German failure at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914 and the subsequent Allied counter attacks, the ‘Race to the Sea’ began.

    This so called race ended at the North Sea coast after each army attempted to outflank the other by moving north and west.  This area of Flanders, described by one historian as having the dreariest landscape in Western Europe, contained the last gap through which either side could launch a decisive thrust.

    By October 1914, the Allies had reached Nieuport on the North Sea coast.  The Germans, as a prelude to General Erich von Falkenhayn’s Flanders Offensive, captured Antwerp and forced its Belgian defenders back to Nieuport, near Ypres.

  • World War One Cardiff council fallen remembered on roll of honour (walesonline.co.uk)
    Those who worked for Cardiff City Council and lost their lives in World War One were remembered in the council’s roll of honour. Jessica Flynn looks at the formal roll held at Glamorgan Archives
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    With hundreds of names on the list, each have their own personal story. Many were normal working class people going about their lives in the city before the war changed their futures.
  • The History of Remembrance Poppies (serenataflowers.com)
    Published in 1915, the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae uses thisimage as a symbol of the way that the poet’s comrades fought and gave their lives in battle.Its hugely powerful sentiment inspired two women who went onto be responsible for our wearing of the poppy today.In the USA after having read the poem, Moina Bell Michael started to sell poppies to raise funds for ex- servicemen. Later in 1921 the idea was taken up by Madam Guerin who sold countless poppies to raise money to regenerate areas of France that had been most severely destroyed during World War One.

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Filed under Activism and Peace Work, History, Political affairs, Religious affairs, World affairs

Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on

Today 11 November it is remembrance day for the worst tragedy that came over the world, war bringing many countries in agony.

In the 2014 August and November issues of the Christadelphian is spent some time to think about those awful years.
In the august issue brother Roger Long looked also at the “Signs of the times” Nearer the exit?

Today in several countries there is an annual holiday honouring military veterans. At Veterans Day, also celebrated as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day or Poppy Day, the world remembers the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.  At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare, with the German signing of the Armistice. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the flags of the country and of the union (Europe, Common Wealth, America or United States) are hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting one or two minutes may be held at 11am.

The British do have Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday in November, the Sunday nearest to 11 November. Remembrance Sunday also sees special events and services relating to remembrance and was this year (2014) on the 9th of November.

The Christadelphian August 2014 issue with Reflections and Lessons from the Great War 1914-1918

The Christadelphian August 2014 issue with Reflections and Lessons from the Great War 1914-1918

 

100 years on

Reflections on the Great War

The First World War was one of the most important events of the twentieth century, shattering the international settlement of the previous century and leading almost inevitably to the Second World War.

The War brought serious challenges to the Christadelphian community, challenges reflected in the pages of The Christadelphian and Fraternal Visitor magazines. In this brief series, these will be considered from time to time.

“A bolt from the blue”

“The murder of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his Consort on June 28th, at Sarajevo, has proved to be the match the dropping of which has converted Europe into a ‘lake of fire’. It has come like a bolt from the blue …” (“Signs of the Times” – September 1914, The Christadelphian, page 451)

Franz Joseph I of Austria 1855

Franz Joseph I of Austria 1855 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the first news was received of the murder by Gavrilo Princip of Franz Ferdinand and his wife, it was not front page news. The Times newspaper reported it on page 7 very much as just another assassination in a Europe accustomed to periodic murders of kings and politicians. After all Tsar Alexander II of Russia had been killed by a bomb thrown by a Polish student in March 1881; the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s wife, Elizabeth, had been stabbed to death boarding a lakeside steamer in Geneva by an anarchist in 1898 and the Russian Prime Minister Stolypin assassinated in a Kiev theatre in 1911, to name but a few. The main comment in the newspapers was about the extraordinary ill fortune of the House of Hapsburg: Franz Joseph’s brother Maximilian had died in an ill-fated attempt to become emperor of Mexico in 1867, his son Rudolf committed suicide at Mayerling in 1889, his wife had been murdered and now his nephew and heir and his wife had been shot dead in Sarajevo in yet another episode in the troubled history of the Balkans.

It is doubtful if many of the British public had ever heard of Sarajevo before and many people, including politicians, saw it as an unfortunate episode which might raise temperatures in a troubled area which had experienced two wars within the previous three years. However, those wars had been prevented from spreading by the intervention of the great powers, Austria-Hungary, Germany, Britain, France and Russia, and expectations in the initial days after the murders were that this new mini-crisis could also be resolved. No one in those first days and weeks thought that it would lead to a world war. Other crises involving the Powers had come and gone without leading to conflagration, so why should this one be any different?

Militarism and alliances

Of course, the Powers were all armed to the teeth and had been for some years; in January 1914 The Christadelphian noted the huge rise in the number of Dreadnought battleships across the Powers – up from 1 in 1905 to 125 in 1912 and 150 in 1913. The “Signs of the Times” column noted the “steady drift towards Armageddon” and that the nations were “angrier than ever”. But it also noted the general concern that money devoted to growing armies and navies was being wasted at a time of great social need. In those early months of 1914 there was no great sense of urgency, even amongst eagle-eyed surveyors of the world stage in the Christadelphian Office. Indeed an interesting observation from the Daily Chronicle quoted in February 1914’s magazine was that, “Never has Europe been more militarist or less warlike”. This comment reflected the widespread feeling that the very level of military preparedness made war less likely. The two great alliances, of Austria-Hungary and Germany on one hand and Britain, France and Russia on the other, seemed to cancel one another out and peace of a sort had prevailed ever since 1871 – a period of just over forty years. Whilst there were signs of troubled times ahead, in the spring of 1914 there was little awareness of the imminence of the disaster about to unfold or the millions of lives it would consume. People had become lulled into a false sense of security.

Watching world events

The Christadelphian magazines of those early months have a recognisable mixture of exposition, exhortation and other articles of general interest. There was much concern for the fledgling Jewish settlements in Palestine, then still under Turkish rule; Brother Frank Jannaway sent regular reports of his travels there and in neighbouring Bible lands. There was great concern for Jews being persistently mistreated in Russia, comments on events and matters of interest in other churches and the regular reports of ecclesial activities. Until September, after the war had started, the lecture titles recorded were a cross-section of issues, with few if any indicating an imminent world crisis.

So there is an interesting mix of news. In February 1914 aeroplanes were seen over Jerusalem for the first time; in March it was reported that the European Unity League was advocating an alliance of the states of Europe on an economic basis and that suggestions had been made that Jerusalem should be declared a neutral city. In April there was a report of some Suffragettes setting up their own women-only church; in May the visit of the King and Queen to Paris to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Entente Cordiale alliance with France; in June an article bewailed the failure of clergymen in the established Church to uphold the authority of the scriptures, especially with regard to miracles.

The magazine reports were not entirely ignorant of the threats posed by the Powers’ large armies and navies. In April the “Signs of the Times” reported that there were rumours that some of the Powers might consider that a “preventative” war would be better than allowing their enemies to grow stronger and stronger; it also listed the huge armies of the time – Russia 1,700,000 men, Germany 870,000, France 714,000, Austria 360,000 and Italy 290,000. Relying on its navy, Britain mustered a mere 256,000. In June a letter raised the question of whether it would be wise to send a fresh petition to the British Parliament again to request exemption if conscription was introduced: the rather cautious response was that the time was not right for such an action, although the Lincoln Ecclesia had petitioned on the subject in 1913 and received responses from senior politicians including Asquith, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.

The July “Signs of the Times”, probably written before the news of the assassination in Sarajevo broke, covered a diverse range of events – the crisis in Ireland over Home Rule; the Suffragette campaign which included planting a bomb behind the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey; oil exploration in Southern Persia; a suggestion from an Admiral Scott that air power and submarines would eventually make warships obsolete; references to a revolution in Albania and to collisions at sea. Even in August, the assassination only made an appearance as the third item in “Signs of the Times”, although the publication of the magazine at the beginning of the month and early requirements for copy may account for this.

The crisis everyone in Britain feared concerned Ireland, which was then entirely within the United Kingdom. A Home Rule Bill passed through the House of Commons in June 1914, but the Protestant northern counties of Ulster had been preparing for some years to resist if any attempt were made to force them into a united independent Ireland. Ulster Defence Volunteers openly marched and prepared to fight, with large numbers of guns being smuggled into the country. British Army officers stationed at the Curragh threatened to resign rather than be ordered to take action against the Protestant counties. Had the war not intervened, a civil war in Ireland would almost certainly have broken out.

The low priority given to the assassination in Sarajevo reflected the initial lack of alarm amongst the leaders of the Great Powers. The German Foreign Minister went off on July 5th on his honeymoon; the Kaiser set out the next day for his usual twenty-day summer cruise to Scandinavia; other leaders looked forward to time on holiday away from the troubles of the world. The British public planned whatever time they could get at the seaside or other holiday destinations, looking forward to August Bank Holiday, then on the first Monday in August.

A rapid escalation

All things continued much as before until July 24, when Austria-Hungary’s fierce ultimatum to Serbia, who it blamed for the assassination, set in train a rapid escalation. The Austrians had first secured the support of the Germans for this move, which made the involvement of Russia and France more likely. Within a week the mobilisation of the rival armies of Europe, unable to stand and watch their allies attacked or threatened, had brought Austria-Hungary and Germany into war with Russia and France. The invasion of Belgium as part of the German plan to defeat France quickly brought Britain into the war on August 4 and the last summer of the old order was overwhelmed by the earthquake which was the Great War.

There are lessons in all this for us. We too live in days when we have become accustomed to living with crises in different parts of the world. They form a constant backdrop to our lives. Scarcely a day goes by without a fresh report of trouble in the Middle East, whilst the Great Powers of our day posture and threaten much as they did a hundred years ago. So it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and to push beyond the horizon our expectation of the Second Coming and the final crises of this world which will precede it. The Lord warned us that his return would come suddenly “as a thief in the night”. In 1914, the world which then was disintegrated in the space of little more than a month from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, serving as a warning of how quickly things change in God’s purpose. The lesson is clear and uncompromising:

“Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming … therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect … Lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.” (Matthew 24:42,44; Mark 13:36)

John Botten

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Continue reading: Reflections on the Great War #2

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Please find additional reading:

  1. All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting… George Orwell
  2. August 4, 1914 to be remembered
  3. 11 November, a day to remember #1 Until Industrialisation
  4. 11 November, a day to remember #2 From the Industrialisation
  5. 100° birthday of war and war tourism
  6. 1914 – 2014 preparations
  7. Liège 2014 remembering the Great War
  8. Mons 2014 remembering the Great War
  9. Friendship and Offer for the cause of democracy
  10. Juncker warns for possible new war

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  • Remembrance Day: Millions across the UK including London and Belfast to mark those lost (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
    This weekend – Armistice weekend in the 1914 centenary year – London will have three rivers: water, people and poppies.
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    For the first time on any war memorial anywhere in the world, the names of former comrades, former allies and former enemies will be listed together, alphabetically, with no distinction of rank or country. President François Hollande will open the memorial. Both the Prime Minister David Cameron and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, were invited. Neither, sadly, will attend.
  • The History of Remembrance Poppies (serenataflowers.com)
    At this time of year it’s hard to miss those unmistakable red poppies adorning everyone’s lapels and buttonholes. Having become such an iconic symbol of the sacrifices made and the lives lost in past wars how did this simple little flower come to mean so much to so many?
  • World War One: Use our widget to search for anyone in your family or your street who died in The Great War (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
    The last recorded death in the conflict from Greater Manchester was James Isherwood Bolton, of Belmont Road, Astley Bridge.He sadly lost his life on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.James Arthur Parkes, of Meadow Bank, Chorlton, was the oldest casualty when he was killed on March 29, 1917, aged 67.

    And the youngest to die was 15-year-old Frederick Thorley Finucane, the son of Theatre and Emily Finucane, when he died on November 27 1914.

    The bloodiest day was on July 1, 1916, when 585 soldiers from Greater Manchester died in the Battle of the Somme.

  • Opinion: Echoes of Great War reverberate to this day (ww1.canada.com)
    If you had been in one of those cold, wet trenches on the Western Front, bracing yourself to go “over the top” into the face of machine-gun fire, how would you want future generations to honour your potential death?Well, having spent a lot of time between attacks listening to cries for help from No Man’s Land, you’d probably not be satisfied with occasional remembrances of your sacrifice.Rather, you’d want future generations to figure out what happened, with a view to making sure the Armageddon you were living through at least became the War To Make Wars a Lot Less Likely. And today – just three days shy of the 100th anniversary of Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia, starting the First World War – it’s fair to say this is a debt posterity hasn’t properly paid.
  • Arrivals: This week, Remembrance Day (thestar.com)
    Military expert Doyle has assembled 100 objects to tell the story of the Great War, beginning with the 1911 Graff and Stift Double Phaeton open car in which Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were travelling when they were assassinated, and ending with the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, and other memorials that remember the war dead.
  • Today in History, Oct. 28 (rep-am.com)
    On Oct. 28, 1914, Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip, whose assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, sparked World War I, was sentenced in Sarajevo to 20 years’ imprisonment (he died in 1918); four conspirators were sentenced to death. (Princip escaped the death penalty because he was underage.)
  • Time Machine: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (1875-1914) (rosiepowell2000.typepad.com)
    The assassinations produced widespread shock across Europe. There was a great deal of initial sympathy toward Austria. Within two days, Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, advised Serbia that it should open an investigation on the assassination, but the Serbian government responded that the incident did not concern them. After conducting its own criminal investigation, Austro-Hungary issued what became known as the July Ultimatum, which listed demands made to Serbia regarding the assassinations within 48 hours. After receiving support from Russia, Serbia agreed to at least two out of ten demands. The government mobilized its troops and transported them by tramp steamers across the Danube River to the Austro-Hungarian at Temes-Kubin. Austro-Hungarian soldiers fired into the air to warn them off. On July 28, 1914; Austria-Hungary and its ally, Germany, declared war on Serbia. Under the Secret Treaty of 1892, Russia and France were obliged to mobilize their armies if any of the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austo-Hungary and Italy) mobilized. Russia’s mobilization completed full Austro-Hungarian and German mobilizations. Soon all the Great Powers, except Italy, had chosen sides. World War I had begun.
  • Speech: Remembrance Day (gov.uk)
    Ladies and gentlemen, we come here, of course, to pay our respects to all of the fallen and of the wounded in all conflicts over the last 100 years. 2014 also marked the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, commemorated by World Leaders, including HM the Queen, in Normandy this summer. This spirit of courage, bravery and sacrifice continues to the present day. As we welcome home our returning troops from Afghanistan, we grieve for the 453 of them who were lost to that conflict. We also pay tribute to the Cambodian troops currently serving overseas in UN Peacekeeping operations in countries as far afield as Mali and Lebanon. We wish them success in their missions and a safe return home upon their completion.Today, as every day, we remember those who volunteered, served, fought, and died, all for the cause of freedom. We have with us today several veterans of these conflicts. We are grateful for your service. We thank you, and we salute you as we salute those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We will remember them.

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