November 12 is Remembrance Day. It is observed in a number of countries since the end of the First World War to recall the end of hostilities in the War and to remember the members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty during the Wars.
Guyana will officially honor this day by paying tribute to its fallen heroes—the men and women who died during the two World Wars. Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, is commemorated on November 11 each year to mark the end of World War I in 1918. According to the Guyana Legion, which comprises ex-military officers and present day military retirees, Remembrance Day is observed in Guyana annually on the Sunday closest to November 11.
Prior to the end of World War II, the day was known as Armistice Day, but was renamed Remembrance Day in 1945. It was inaugurated to observe the truce signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente (Anglo-French Alliance between France and the United Kingdom) at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, to officially signal the end of World War I and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles the following year on June 28, 1919.
Remembrance Day is a day when poppies are worn in most countries, including Guyana, as a sign of respect and as an emblem of remembrance of the men and women who served and made the ultimate sacrifice in the two world wars. Poppy is a white flower, but the symbol of red represents the blood that stained the flowers on the battlefield during the First World War.
Poppy Day originated from a poem titled “In Flanders Field” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a doctor in the Royal Canadian Medical Corps. Colonel McCrae’s poem was inspired by the fact that despite the massive devastation caused by the war on several towns, villages, farms and forests, thousands of poppies sprang up everywhere in the spring.
Guyanese should be reminded that our brave soldiers fought in wars in such far-off places as Egypt, France, Belgium and East Africa. In Guyana, the day is marked by parades of the country’s uniformed ranks in Georgetown, New Amsterdam and other towns and villages. However, the biggest activity is normally held at the Cenotaph which is the national war memorial monument located in front of the Bank of Guyana building, at the junction of Church and Main Streets in Georgetown.
The Cenotaph was unveiled on August 14, 1923, by the then British Governor Graeme Thompson. The first Armistice Day observance took place at the Monument that same year. The four words: Devotion, Humanity, Fortitude, and Sacrifice are inscribed on the four faces of the Cenotaph.
Persons who customarily attend in an official capacity (inclusive of wreath-laying) are the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defense Force, the Commissioner of Police, leader of the Opposition, President of the Guyana Legion, the Mayor of Georgetown, Heads of Missions, and Representatives of the Guyana Ex-Soldiers’ Benevolent Association and Ex-GDF Association of Guyana. Other Persons/Organisations wishing to lay wreaths on that day; may do so after the end of the Service. Scores of Guyanese would attend the ceremony to pay respect to fallen heroes. The ceremony will begin with a two-minute silence followed by the National Anthem. The Head of State, who is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will lay their wreaths.
The central theme in their minds is always ‘Lest we forget’ a reminder that wars and acts of violence can rent the world asunder.
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