Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Today the 11th November is Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day and in the US Veterans Day. At 11 am a 2 minute silence is observed by many people here in the UK. Hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.
This soldier in the picture is Rifleman Daniel Render of 5th Battalion The Rifles and I photographed him a little while after he played the Last Post on his bugle at the Leeds city Remembrance Sunday ceremony here at the War Memorial in Victoria Gardens in Leeds city centre.
The Last Post is here in the UK played at military funerals and also at the start of the two minute silence. In the US a similar tune played on a lone bugle is Taps.
I have been rather disappointed to note that few young people here in Leeds and nearby wear a poppy in the week or so in the run up to today. Perhaps they think all this is of no relevance to them or their peers. I beg to differ, my grandfather was at the Battle of Passchendaele also known as the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. My uncle was at Arnhem as part of operation Market Garden in 1944. The men, mostly involved in these and many other battles who did not come back are still well within living memory.
Also and more importantly, men and women who are our sons, brothers, fathers, cousins and friends are putting their lives at risk in our name daily in foreign lands. The medal that RFN Daniel Render wears on his chest is the Iraq Medal issued to personnel who served during that campaign.
I live in a village not far from Leeds and this summer there was a military funeral for a young man, a soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan at the age of 22, here in my home village. I did not know him but a young man I know knew him well and I was very surprised to see this young man wearing a suit and tie. I did not realise he had a suit or a tie, but his friend died in a far off land.