Veterans Day has been celebrated now for perhaps a century. Both the holiday itself and its poppy symbol have their origins in the 1st st. war
The War Veterans Day tradition dates back to the first anniversary of the end of World War I and is closely associated with the Western Allies. Just one year after the end of World War I, people remembered the peace for the first time on November 11. The same day, US President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as "Armistice Day." In later 20s, this day became the official holiday of the USA. Afterwards, In 1954, "Armistice Day" was renamed as "Veterans Day" by the US Congress.
Every eleventh day, the eleventh month of the year, at exactly eleven o'clock (not only) in Great Britain life stops for two minutes. This custom has lasted since 1919 as a symbol of honoring the memory of soldiers who fell on the day of the signing the armistice at the end of the First World War.
The symbol of the red poppy was added to the tradition of two minutes silence in 1921, and was initiated by the newly founded British Legion, which helps all former soldiers, who took part in the war.
The symbolism of the poppy was unknowingly due to the military doctor Lt. Col. John McCrae from Ontario, Canada, who served in Europe in the First World War. Although he was a military surgeon, he could not get used to the hardships and pain of the wounded soldiers. He alleviated his pain by writing poems. He was particularly touched by the death of his friend and former student, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. An eyewitness, Sergeant Cyril Allison, described that the morning the gentle east wind was blowing, the poppies were rippling between the graves. John McCrae wrote his pain in a poem, but threw away the piece of paper with it. However, a passing officer picked him up and sent him to England. Punch magazine published the poem on December 8, 1915. Unfortunatelly, the tradition of wearing poppies was not lived by John McCrae, he fell before the end of the war.
On November 11, France and Belgium also commemorate their veterans and the fallen ones. On November 4, Italy commemorates its fallen. This date is also associated with the end of World War I, because the Italians commemorate the day when the armistice with Austria-Hungary came into legal force. In Germany, the fallen and veterans are remembered at the Volkstrauertag, which has been celebrated since the 1950s two Sundays before the first Sunday of Advent.
In Britain, the sale of poppies on 11th of November is linked to a fundraiser to help war veterans. The collections originate in England with Douglas Haig and RBL. In its first year, RBL ordered 9 million poppies and sold them almost immediately. A year later, therefore, the Poppy Factory (factory for the production of artificial poppies) was established, which employs former soldiers with disabilities.
The poppy has been a symbol of war veterans since the end of the First World War. It is said, that the red flowers at that time covered the graves of the fallen on the western front. By pinning a symbolic flower, people commemorate the heroism of the soldiers and pay their respects.
Let us remember 11/11 at 11 o'clock the braveness, courage and determination of those who had to fight for our future.
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Autor: mah, & Mah. (n.d.). Den válečných veteránů: Proč se nosí vlčí máky? Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.blesk.cz/den-valecnych-veteranu-vlci-maky