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November 11, 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Fittingly, it is Remembrance Sunday, commemorated in the UK and parts of the Commonwealth.

I have a number of Remembrance Day posts from previous years that readers might wish to peruse.

It is good that we still wear poppies, which come in for criticism every year, sadly. Alexander Owen, who served for 10 years in the Blues and Royals and now works at the Royal British Legion as Head of Armed Forces Engagement, recently wrote an article for The Independent‘s inews, excerpted below (emphases mine):

The ways that this generation changed our world are many and all-encompassing. War does not discriminate, and nor should the poppy.

The poppy has never been more inclusive, open and hopeful than in this Armistice Centenary Year. This November we should thank the entire generation of the First World War who served, sacrificed and changed our world, as this is the last chance to do so. But as a nation we must ensure that we follow the example they set 100 years ago and maintain the poppy as a symbol of hope and inclusivity. Wearing a poppy is a personal choice that must not be enforced. To do so would undermine its entire meaning.

It is sad that such an article even needs to be written. I also would have changed the word ‘should’ to ‘does’ in the first highlighted sentence.

That said, the Royal British Legion is helping to teach schoolchildren about the Great War, as it is also called, via a new book from author and playwright Michael Morpurgo:

Walter ‘Wally’ Randall, 103, is the nation’s oldest Poppy Appeal collector and has no intention of hanging up his collection tin just yet. The Royal British Legion reports:

He served in the service corps during World War Two before he later held the positions of both branch chairman and club chairman for the Leighton Buzzard Royal British Legion.

Wally is the proud recipient of a lifetime certificate for services to the local branch and has showed no signs of hanging up his collection tin yet.

He said: “I’m going to keep on selling poppies while I’ve still got the energy to do it. I’m lucky because I get to sit inside the entrance of Wilkos [a retail chain] in the warm.

He added: “My favourite thing about selling poppies is people’s generosity – when someone puts money in but says ‘I’ve already got a poppy’. It’s very gratifying.”

He appeared on morning television a few days ago:

A star-studded concert, the Festival of Remembrance, took place at Saturday night at the Royal Albert Hall:

Television adverts have appeared, thanking those who fought, died and innovated for their service, sacrifice and dedication:

The Duke of Cambridge offered this tribute:

Every One Remembered is an excellent site that has a photo montage of the British and Commonwealth men and women who died between 1914 and 1918.

Director Peter Jackson has taken painstaking time to colourise film from the Great War, which really reminds us of the truly personal — and deadly — story that it was:

There are also lesser known tragic stories, such as that of the Titanic newsboy:

A BT.com article, ‘May’s Armistice centenary tribute to First World War dead’s “immense sacrifices”‘, has a set of maps that shows how Europe’s national boundaries changed after 1918.

Prime Minister Theresa May was in France on Friday, November 9, to commemorate the war’s fallen with French President Emmanuel Macron. She also visited Belgium.

The article also highlights other ceremonies taking place this weekend in France and in London:

On Sunday, a bugle will sound at the French graveside of war poet Wilfred Owen, marking 100 years since his death on November 4 1918, just seven days shy of peace being declared.

Elizabeth Owen, the widow of his nephew Peter, will attend a ceremony in Ors, in the north of the country, where the instrument – which was taken from a dead German soldier – will be used to play The Last Post.

Meanwhile, at the Tower of London on Sunday evening, about 10,000 flames will be lit, in remembrance of those who fought and died in the war.

The light display installation, called Beyond the Deepening Shadow, will run each evening up to and including on Armistice Day.

The light installation at the Tower of London opened on Sunday, November 4. BT.com has more on the story, including photos:

Around 10,000 flames have filled the empty moat encircling the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

A ceremonial Beefeater guard began the lighting ceremony by bringing a flame down from the tower into the moat, which had been submerged in smoke.

Dozens of representatives from the armed forces and volunteers then used the flame to ignite thousands of other torches staked into or placed on the ground underneath the tower, bathing the barren moat in light …

It took around 45 minutes to light the flames, which then burn for roughly four hours.

The ceremony was accompanied by a specially commissioned sound installation featuring choral music, as well as words from war poet Mary Borden’s Sonnets To A Soldier.

The ceremony was “amazing”, according to Dick Harrold, governor of the Tower of London.

One hundred years after this horrific war ended — which saw the beginning of modern technical warfare — we seem to have forgotten the importance of war memorials, such as this one, which is being contested in the United States:

And we should think about what sort of children we have raised. Would they have been able to march to war, as 15- and 16-year-olds did a century ago — as volunteers?

In closing, there are two outcomes of the war that I remember reading about over the past four years, as each year from 2015 to 2018 in Britain has seen a number of documentaries, books and articles recalling what happened a century ago.

One result of the Great War was a generation of spinsters here in the UK and elsewhere. How heartbreaking it must have been not only for war widows but young women who lost their boyfriends and fiancés to brutal fighting on the front lines.

The second was a total transformation of house building here in the UK, as many traditional skills were no longer available because so many in those trades lost their lives on the battlefield.

We are currently redecorating our house, built at the turn of the last century. I look at the keyed lime plaster we are uncovering and say a prayer for those souls who so freely gave of their todays for our tomorrows. (Every man from the age of 15 to 50 was recorded under the Military Service Bill and, barring poor health, was potentially conscripted.)

Most certainly in our household we will remember.

May God bless ‘The Glorious Dead’, as inscribed on the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

May we be eternally grateful for all their sacrifices for our freedom a century on.

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