This year’s Remembrance Day is a particularly important one as it marks the centenary of the beginning of World War 1 in 1914. With this in mind, the nation is going all out to mark the date vividly in people’s memories, and rightly so. Along with the tradition of buying and wearing commemorative poppies, many places around the country are marking the date in their own way. Most notably, the Tower of London and Royal British Legion have collaborated to blanket a moat of ceramic poppies around the iconic London landmark. The close to a million poppies at the Tower are an impressive and grand spectacle, but designed to affect everyone in a personal and intimate way. Remembering members of my own family who died in the war, my mother went to see the Tower of London, saying “the display is stunning in its simplicity, as you absorb the atmosphere; the feeling of a gently flowing river of blood becomes all the more apparent”. An image that’s quite uncomfortable to think about, but supremely important.
This year, the Royal British Legion hopes that the sale of these poppies and others like it will raise between 15 and 20 million pounds in charitable donations this year.
Closer to home in Leicester, the city and county councils have gotten right behind the occasion too and have organised a whole host of events all through the winter to mark the centenary and remember the 5,293 servicemen from the county who gave their lives. The events, under the umbrella of ‘Leicester Remembers World War 1’, cover a range of different themes, from museum and art gallery exhibitions to educational workshops for children about the War, spanning all the way through until Spring 2015. In addition, there are commemorative events that are permanent such as the Royal Leicestershire Regiment museum which has dedicated itself wholly to remembrance of those from the country who gave their lives.
Days like Remembrance Day are becoming ever more important, not just for the centenary and for those servicemen from Leicestershire, but because there are now no living veterans of the First World War. The last, Florence Green, passed away in 2012 at the age of 112. Every Remembrance Day makes WW1 more and more historical, and in doing so, more and more in need of remembering.
Further details about WW1 commemorative events in Leicestershire, visit the Leicester City Council website at www.leicester.gov.uk and follow the links, or contact the council by phone at 0116 454 1000. For commemorative events nationwide, visit the websites of the BBC at www.bbc.co.uk or Royal British Legion at www.britishlegion.org.uk