Queen leads Remembrance Day tributes at the Cenotaph
How to Celebrate Remembrance Day
While Remembrance Day on November 11th recalls a time of bloodshed and difficulty, celebrating it can be an act of happiness and gratitude for those who gave their lives in the first World War. Celebrated in Barbados, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Belize, India, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, and Saint Lucia, Remembrance Day can be a good time to invoke your patriotism.
Researching Remembrance Day
Interview a veteran to better understand the holiday's importance.Get in touch with a veteran by contacting your local veterans’ office and asking if you can interview any of them. Interviewing a veteran will help you understand what armed service members went through in times of war and give you a better appreciation of the sacrifice they made.Try questions like:
- When did you enlist?
- Why did you enlist?
- Which wars did you serve in?
- What was your most memorable experience?
- Were you in combat?
- Can you show me any photographs?
- Where did you serve?
- Did you stay in touch with people back home?
Learn about World War I.Take some time to research the effects and major players in World War I by reading about it in your local library or online. Ask your librarians if you can check out their favorite books about World War I.
- Be sure to look at war poetry as well, which you can perform at a Remembrance Day ceremony.
- Ask your librarians, "I'm researching Remembrance Day. Do you have any books you'd recommend about that day, or about World War I in general?"
- World War I lasted from 1914 to 1918, and involved France, Great Britain, Russia, the U.S.A., Italy, and others fighting against Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire.
Ask your parents or grandparents what they remember about wartime.Though no veterans of World War I are still alive, your great or great-great grandparents may have passed some knowledge onto your living relatives about the war, and you’ll never know until you ask.
- Try asking, "Did your grandparents ever tell you anything about World War I? I'd love to hear about it."
- Be sure and write these down so you can remember them. After all, maybe someday your children will ask you these questions!
Research the contributions of armed service members from your town.Go to your local library and look for newspapers from World War I. Look for death notices from the time of 1914 to 1918, the primary years of the war. Write down the soldiers you find who perished in wartime so you can commemorate them on Remembrance Day.
- Don’t forget minority groups. When thinking about Remembrance Day, it can be easy to forget that many different kinds of people have participated in war. When you’re researching, ask specifically about groups that are different from your own, so as to be inclusive when you’re celebrating.
Decorating for Remembrance Day
Make multi-colored poppies from tissue paper.Cut circles out of multiple colors of tissue paper, then cut circles of half that size to make the poppy's inner circle. Layer the small circles on top of the large ones, then poke a pipe cleaner through the center to create a poppy.
- Consider using the colors of your flag to make the poppy look patriotic. Or make your poppy all red, which is the traditional color for poppies on Remembrance Day.
- Poppies symbolize casualties in wartime and are often worn on lapels or used as decorations.
Create wreaths of flowers to place on memorial sites.Make wreaths by stringing different kinds of flowers and plants around a circular frame such as a wire hanger, which you can bend into a circle. Untwist the wire hanger's hook, and string the flowers and plants on by pushing them onto the wire until the circle is full. These wreaths can be placed on graves, statues, or anywhere you’re celebrating fallen soldiers. Many different flowers and plants are used to symbolize wartime:
- Poppies for remembrance
- Forget-me-nots for remembrance
- Rosemary for remembrance
- Tulips for gratitude
- Daisies for hope and resistance
- Laurels for victory
- Hibiscus for resilience
Fly the flag of your country.Either raise it on a flag pole or have someone carry the flag on a moveable pole as part of the ceremony. Call your local veterans’ office to ask about local flag rules, as etiquette varies from country to country.Here are some rules that apply no matter where you are:
- Be sure not to let the flag touch the ground.
- Always make sure that the flag is not upside-down when it is flown.
- Fly flags of different countries at the same height; never hoist your own country's flag higher than another's.
Participating in Remembrance Day Traditions
Visit memorial sites in your area.Visiting memorial sites will help instill a sense of patriotism within you and help you prepare for Remembrance Day. Consider taking some flowers with you to leave at the memorial site.
- Look online to find sites that memorialize veterans near you. Try searching “veteran memorial sites in (your city)” to find a graveyard, statue, or park that honors armed service members.
- In England, try the Cenotaph in Whitehall, in London.
- In Canada, head to the National War Memorial (also titled "The Response") in Ottawa.
- In India, you could go to the Delhi War Cemetery in New Delhi.
Attend a Remembrance Day event in your community.Call your local veterans' office to ask about Remembrance Day events happening in your city. Attending a parade, a speech, or a candlelight vigil can be a great way to memorialize fallen soldiers.
Invite a veteran to speak at your workplace or school.Think of the veterans in your life, or veterans you know of. Ask one or a few of them if they’d be willing to speak at your Remembrance Day event.
- Having a veteran speak about the importance of the armed forces will help you and your schoolmates or coworkers better understand the importance of Remembrance Day.
Ask for 2 minutes of silence at 11 am on November 11th.At 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, ask your classmates or coworkers for 2 minutes of complete silence. There should be no movement or noise whatsoever; try to get everyone around to participate.
- Try saying something like, "When the clock strikes 11 am, it's respectful to remain silent for 2 minutes in honor of fallen armed forces members. Will you help me remember them by being silent for 2 minutes at that time?"
- The 2 minutes of silence are meant to represent the first day that fighting ended at the end of World War I.
Read a poem to commemorate fallen soldiers.Perform a public reading of a wartime poem to celebrate the lives and bravery of fallen soldiers.Consider reading poems like:
- "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae
- "Memorial Day For The War Dead" by Yehuda Amichai
- "Do Not Weep, Maiden, For War Is Kind" by Stephen Crane
- "In California During The Gulf War" by Denise Levertov
Thank any dressed armed service members you see.If you see former or current service members dressed in their uniform or wearing armed services clothing, respectfully thank them for their service.
Video: The Poppy Story (First Level & up).
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