Remembrance Day, the 100th anniversary

BLOOD SWEPT LANDS AND SEAS OF RED: A panoramic view of the poppy moat

BLOOD SWEPT LANDS AND SEAS OF RED: A panoramic view of the poppy moat

The shudder of goose bumps captured me, as the thud of the cannons marked the beginning of the two minutes silence.

Two minutes silence to commemorate the millions of personnel who served and sacrificed their own lives for us.

For you.

For the future.

And for freedom.

As I stood in the centre of Whitehall, amongst the tens of thousands, I heard nothing. Not a single sound broke the silence.

In front of me, I watched the old boys and girls as they stood tall and proud, chins raised with a glimpse of sadness in their eyes.It was difficult to stand there watching their tired feet, unsteady legs and trembling hands, but the glimpse of strength and power in this moment, their moment, was spectacular.  It was clear to me that not a single one of them were going to miss this moment for the world.

I glanced to my left, as one elderly man stood behind his own wheelchair, desperately gripping the handles to support his fragile self. He wore his impressive collection of well-earned medals, polished to perfection, with his hair smartly combed to one side. Peering through his 60s’ styled spectacles, the pure determination and fierce ambition in this brave man’s eyes, to stand there tall and strong, was impeccable.

There are no words to describe the honour and respect I felt towards this man, and to the thousands of others stood there in front of me, in the sea of heroes.   To my right stood the empty tomb, The Cenotaph, which looked as if it had been handpicked from a fairy tale. The sun pierced through the lasting memorial and onto the aged faces of the war.

Thud.

The cannons struck again and an eerie atmosphere settled over London.

THE CENOTAPH: 'The Glorious Dead'

THE CENOTAPH: ‘The Glorious Dead’

Armistice Day falls on the 11th of November every year, marking the end of World War One. Each year, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a two minutes silence is held across towns and cities all over the world.

On Remembrance Sunday, which this year fell on Sunday 9th, The Great Royal British Legion parade, involving over 10,000 representatives, marched through the famous Whitehall, situated in Central London. As the war veterans from over 250 military organisations marched, the crowd in their thousands applauded the seemingly never-ending ribbon of uniformed and decorated veterans.

As a student at Teesside University, the main reason I travelled back down to London for the Remembrance Day parade was to see my dad in the march. He was amongst the select number of Ministry of Defence Police who have served in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

This made the occasion more personal and special to me, and it was an incredibly proud moment to see my dad suited and booted amongst the thousands of other service men and women.

PROUD MOMENT: Me (left) and my dad (right) after the parade

PROUD MOMENT: Me (left) and my dad (right) after the parade

This year was the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War, and will be a memorial day that will never be forgotten. The beautiful Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the masterpiece that wowed the nation, was a mass display of ceramic poppies that floated around the Tower of London.

Over five million people came to view the waterfall of 888,246 ceramic poppies; one for each British and colonial death during World War One. The two sculpture elements in the memorial were the Wave, which arched over the entrance to the Tower, and the Weeping Willow, made up from a gentle trickle of poppies spilling from the castle’s window.

These iconic pieces are setting off on a tour around Britain before settling into their new home at the Imperial War Museum.

THE WEEPING WILLOW: Thousands of people gather to see the display

THE WEEPING WILLOW: Thousands of people gather to see the display

After visiting the memorial display, I was left mesmerised. The simplicity of the artwork, created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, and Royal Shakespeare Company set designer Tom Piper, was just breath taking. Being there, in London, and being part of Remembrance Day makes you appreciate and experience the scale of the event.

After a hundred years, and a tally of past and present wars, this celebration of bravery and loss is one to be remembered.

from Tside