Remembrance Sunday

Remembrance Sunday is held in the United Kingdom as a day "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts".[1] It is held at 11 a.m. on the second Sunday in November (the Sunday nearest to 11 November, Armistice Day,[2] the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War in 1918).

It is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most cities, towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries, ex-servicemen and -women (many are members of the Royal British Legion and other veterans' organisations), members of local armed forces regular and reserve units (Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve, Army and Territorial Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force), military cadet forces (Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps as well as the Combined Cadet Force) and youth organisations (e.g. Scouts, Boys' Brigade, Girls' Brigade and Guides). Wreaths of remembrance poppies are laid on the memorials and two minutes' silence is held at 11 a.m. Church bells are usually rung half-muffled, creating a sombre effect. The service is held for about two hours.

Remembrance Sunday
Royal British Legion%27s Paper Poppy - white background
The poppy is worn around the time of Remembrance Sunday (traditionally from All Souls' Day (2 November) until the later of; Remembrance Day (11 November) or Remembrance Sunday)
Official nameRemembrance Sunday
Observed byUnited Kingdom
Liturgical Color(Red or green)
ObservancesParades, silences
DateSecond Sunday in November
2017 dateNovember 12
2018 dateNovember 11
2019 dateNovember 10
2020 dateNovember 8
Frequencyannual
Related toRemembrance Day and Armistice Day

History

The focus of remembrance for the dead of the First World War originally fell on Armistice Day itself, commencing in 1919. As well as the National Service in London, events were staged at town and village war memorials, often featuring processions of civic dignitaries and veterans.[3] During the Second World War, the commemorations were moved to the Sunday preceding 11 November as an emergency measure to avoid disruption of the production of vital war materials. In May 1945, just before VE Day, the new government began consultation with the churches and the British Legion on the future of remembrance. Armistice Day in 1945 actually fell on a Sunday, avoiding the need to change the wartime practice. Some thought that to continue with the 11 November would focus more on the First World War and downplay the importance of the Second. Other dates suggested were 8 June (VE Day), 6 June (D-Day), 15 August (VJ Day), 3 September (the declaration of war), and even 15 June (the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215). The Archbishop of Westminster proposed that the second Sunday in November should be named Remembrance Sunday in commemoration of both World Wars, a suggestion which was endorsed by the Home Office in January 1946. In June of that year, the prime minister, Clement Attlee, announced in the House of Commons that "the Government felt that this view would commend itself to all quarters of the country. I am glad to say that it has now found general acceptance here and has bee approved by The King" (being George VI).[4]

National ceremony in the United Kingdom

Her Majesty the Queen Lays a Wreath at the Cenotaph London During Remembrance Sunday Service MOD 45152054
The ceremony at the Cenotaph
Wreaths at the Cenotaph 2016
Group of wreaths laid during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in London

The national ceremony is held in London at the Cenotaph on Whitehall, starting with two minutes' silence at 11 a.m. and concluding with the end of The Nation’s Thank You procession at 1:30 p.m.[5] The main part of the ceremony consists of the laying of wreaths by members of the Royal Family and other dignitaries, prayers, music and a march-past by thousands of military and other units.

Regional and local ceremonies

Remembrance Sunday parade, Oxford (6352329691)
The Remembrance Sunday parade in Oxford in 2011.

Significant ceremonies also take place in the capitals of the nations and across the regions of the United Kingdom.[6] Most notably at the Scottish National War Memorial, in Edinburgh in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle,[7] the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff[8] and at the Northern Ireland War Memorial and Cenotaph in Belfast in the grounds of the Belfast City Hall.[9]

British Overseas Territories

In the past, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs laid a wreath on behalf of all the British overseas territories. However, since 2001 there has been a campaign by Britain's Overseas Territories Association for the right to lay a wreath themselves at the annual service at the Cenotaph. In 2008 the Labour Government agreed that one wreath could be laid for all 14 territories by a representative of the territories.[10][11]

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, Remembrance Sunday has tended to be associated with unionists. Most Irish nationalists and republicans do not take part in the public commemoration of British soldiers organized by the Royal British Legion. This is partly due to the actions of the British Army during The Troubles and its role in fighting against Irish independence. However, some moderate nationalists have attended Remembrance Day events as a way to connect with the unionist community. In 1987 a bomb was detonated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) just before a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen, killing eleven people. The IRA said it had made a mistake and had been targeting soldiers parading to the war memorial. The Republic of Ireland has its own National Day of Commemoration in July for all Irish people who died in war.

Other ceremonies

From 1919 until 1945, Armistice Day observance was always on 11 November itself. It was then moved to Remembrance Sunday, but since the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995, it has become usual to hold ceremonies on both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.

In 2006, then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown proposed that in addition to Remembrance Sunday, a new national day to celebrate the achievements of veterans should be instituted. The "Veterans Day", to be held in the summer, would be similar to Veterans Day celebrations in the United States. This has now been renamed "Armed Forces Day", to include currently serving troops to Service families, and from veterans to cadets. The first "Armed Forces Day" was held on 27 June 2009.

Submariners hold an additional remembrance walk and ceremony on the Sunday before Remembrance Sunday, which has The Submariners Memorial as its focal point.

Outside the United Kingdom

Outside the United Kingdom Anglican and Church of Scotland churches often have a commemorative service on Remembrance Sunday. In the Republic of Ireland there is an ecumenical service in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, the Church of Ireland's national cathedral. Since 1993 the President of Ireland has attended this service.[12] The state has its own National Day of Commemoration (held in July) for all Irish men and women who have died in war. In the United States it is celebrated by many Anglo-Catholic churches in the Episcopal Church. The Anglican Church of Korea also celebrates the day to commemorate, in particular, the Commonwealth soldiers who fought in the Korean War with a service at the Seoul Anglican Cathedral.

In New Zealand an attempt was made to change Armistice Day to Remembrance Sunday after World War II but it was a failure, partly owing to competition from Anzac Day.[13]

See also

References

  1. ^ "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] Department for Culture Media and Sport – remembrance sunday". Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  2. ^ These two statements are in effect the same: the second Sunday is always between 8 and 14 November inclusive, so the second Sunday is no more than three days away from 11 November, and therefore always the Sunday nearest to 11 November.
  3. ^ Cecil, Hugh (1998). At the Eleventh Hour. Pen & Sword Books Ltd. p. 354. ISBN 978-0850526448.
  4. ^ Cecil 1998, pp. 357-358
  5. ^ "Remembrance Sunday 2018: Find out how you can join the commemorations on Sunday 11 November". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  6. ^ Nation unites to remember fallen.
  7. ^ Services held to honour war dead.
  8. ^ Army band heads remembrance event.
  9. ^ War dead are remembered across NI.
  10. ^ Brady, Brian (2 November 2008). "British territories demand right to lay Cenotaph wreaths". The Independent. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  11. ^ Rosindell, Andrew. "British Overseas Territories And Remembrance Sunday". Early Day Motion. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  12. ^ Sørensen, Nils Arne (2003). "Commemorating the Great War in Ireland and the Trentino: An Essay in Comparative History". Nordic Irish Studies. Centre for Irish Studies in Aarhus and the Dalarna University Centre for Irish Studies. 2: 137. JSTOR 30001490.
  13. ^ Helen Robinson, 'Lest we Forget? The Fading of New Zealand War Commemorations, 1946–1966', New Zealand Journal of History, 44, 1 (2010).

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