For the past week or so, I’ve been seeing just about everybody sporting a poppy on their lapel or outfit. I asked my British friends what all the fuss was about with these red flowers and learned something very significant about UK culture. On November 11th is called Remembrance Day, a day much like Veterans Day in the US. A way that many UK citizens show support and solidarity with their troops is to wear paper or fabric poppy. Many people buy them at shops or street corners for a small donation, the proceeds go to wounded vets and their families.
Remembrance Day is also marked by two minutes of silence at 11:00am. It happened to fall during our church service on Sunday, so the entire congregation stood and soberly paid their respects. In the UK, Remembrance Day is celebrated with sobriety, not outright celebration. While I think it’s important to honor the members of the armed forces with food, drink, and gratitude, a level of seriousness for those that have given their lives and livelihoods for our freedoms is also extremely appropriate. And during WWII, England suffered in ways that the US will never really be able to understand. I mean, entire cities and historical buildings were bombed relentlessly. Many people lived in fear every time they heard planes flying overhead. Fortunately, that’s not the case today. But the memory of what happened is not out of the public’s consciousness.
As an American participating in Remembrance Day, I found myself thankful for our allies. I’m grateful for these men and women that fought alongside us and continue to do so. In the spirit of the day and in honor of the troops that protect the UK and her interests, I bought myself a poppy and proudly wore it on my lapel.