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A Red Poppy Souvenir in Honor of Remembrance Day in England

Poppies and Remembrance Day in England

If you visit England in the month of November, you will notice red poppies pinned to the lapel of many residents– especially the older generation. These red poppies were originally a symbol of commemoration of British soldiers who died in World War I (and now include the fallen from all wars since then), and are worn in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day on November 11 (the day World War I formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918).

red poppy remembrance day england uk donation

The red poppies represent the first flowers that grew on the graves of British soldiers in the Flanders region of Belgium, as noted by John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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Even as a visitor, you can show your respects for the contributions by the British soldiers, and at the same time, provide support for the Royal British Legion through your donation. You’ll find the red remembrance poppies offered everywhere throughout the UK– in London, you’ll see them at tube stations and on street corners. While most wear the simple poppy, you can find fancier jewelry versions, with all proceeds benefiting the legion.

Visiting the Poppy Memorial at the Tower of London– Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

poppy photos tower of london completion red sea blood

For less crowds, pick a cold, dark rainy day to visit the Tower of London poppy memorial like I did.

When I was in London last week, I visited the Tower of London to see artist Paul Cummins’ poppy memorial, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The powerful poppy display features 888,246 ceramic poppies — one for every Commonwealth soldier who died in the First World War–  in the moat surrounding the Tower of London.  The poppy memorial at the Tower of London was created progressively and was finalized just last week.

weeping window poppy installation tower of london remebrance day shard

The Tower of London’s poppy memorial was completed in stages. One of the most dramatic portions of the Tower’s poppy installation is called the “Weeping Window,” as red poppies pour out of a Yeoman Warder’s window, spilling out into the moat below.

red poppy display tower of london

The Tower of London Poppy memorial drew records crowds, and has been extended through the end of November 2014.

Millions of visitors have already seen the Tower of London’s emotional installation, and the recent the completion of the memorial has brought in records crowds. The crowds were somewhat lessened in the dark, windy and rainy conditions when I visited, so I was able to snap a few photos, but nothing can really compare to standing in front of the sea of red poppies in the Tower’s moat.

red ceramic poppies at Tower of London exhibit installation

The red ceramic poppies were originally offered for sale to the public at £25 each, but have all been sold.

Final poppy installtion completion tower of london

Red poppy memorial at the Tower of London at dusk.

The artist has commented that like life, the poppy display at the Tower of London is transient, and was originally intended to be dismantled after Remembrance Day on November 11. However, recent news reports indicate that due to huge demand, the Tower of London poppy display has been extended (in part) until the end of November. After the Tower of London Poppy display is dismantled, they will be moved to an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London.

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After reading this post, my mom, who had just visited Normandy last week sent me her own poppy photo. She writes, “I took this photo of a single poppy in the fields in Longues Sur Mer between Gold and Omaha Beach, Atlantic Coast, Normandy. There were no other poppies in this field.”

 

Please feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments below.

9 Responses to A Red Poppy Souvenir in Honor of Remembrance Day in England

  1. Ray Laskowitz 11/08/2014 at 12:20 pm #

    In Flanders fields were poppies grow… 🙂

  2. Ena 11/08/2014 at 3:54 pm #

    The poppies are in remembrance of people who died in WW1 and all the wars since then.

    • Kristin Francis 11/08/2014 at 4:14 pm #

      Thank you for the correction, I’ve updated the post.

  3. Bruce 11/08/2014 at 7:31 pm #

    Thanks Kristin. This is a great story. We also wear a poppy here in Canada. One must never forget.

    • Kristin Francis 11/09/2014 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks for commenting Bruce– my mom was given a poppy by Canadian travelers last week in Normandy. I wasn’t aware of that until I started researching this story.

  4. dianaveggienextdoor 11/08/2014 at 10:38 pm #

    This is beautiful, Kristin. Its so hard to look at that photo of the beautiful poppies knowing that each tiny flower represents one life lost.

    I will be remembering these same sentiments on veterans day next week.

    • Kristin Francis 11/09/2014 at 8:53 am #

      Thanks for commenting Diana. It was very powerful to see how a different country remembers its veterans, and definitely makes it hit home more here too when remembering our own.

  5. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer 11/09/2014 at 10:23 am #

    I had never heard of this before and I was a little curious about the poppy picture you posted on social media, and it is great to get the backstory. I love the way that the British remember their fallen soldiers.

  6. Susan Schwartz 11/09/2014 at 12:16 pm #

    These photos look amazing! It is so powerful..Only on until November 11 – go and see it everyone.

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