In May 1921, a group of ex-Servicemen and representatives from four military charities walked to the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall. The men laid a wreath with badges representing the organisations that would officially unite and cooperate to help form the British Legion. From the four founding charities, only the Officers’ Association remains a separate and viable charity today.
The four military charities are known as:
- National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
- British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
- Comrades of The Great War
- Officers’ Association
This year, as Big Ben strikes 11 am and the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire a single shot salute to signify the start of the two minutes’ silence, it will also mark 102 years of this formal act of National Remembrance. Considering the increasing landscape of change that society has encountered over this time, it is both significant and comforting that this simple act of collective reflection has endured, striking a chord with the public now as it did then.
We look to honour all those who serve to protect and defend our democratic freedoms and way of life, from the First World War to the modern-day. This year’s Remembrance Service will include the military, civilians, both young and old, and veterans from the UK and Commonwealth.
As a non-religious service, Remembrance unites people of all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds but it is also deeply personal. As we honour those who have served in the armed forces and remember their sacrifice, our thoughts will be different and unique to each one of us. Whilst some will be joining organised community group commemoration services, others may reflect alone or simply choose not to remember at all.
Events to mark Armistice Day on the 11th November 2021, including the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph on Sunday 14 November 2021, and the many local services across the UK and Commonwealth, which were cancelled last year due to the pandemic, will go ahead.
There will also be a special Festival of Remembrance on Saturday 13 November 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall to mark 100 years of National Remembrance with the Royal British Legion. The poppy appeal, which has also been at the heart of Remembrance, is also in its one-hundredth year, and in addition to the physical planted fields of Remembrance, walls of Remembrance and other commemorative displays around the country, there are now virtual fields of Remembrance for honouring loved ones and the fallen.
In partnership with the National Memorial Arboretum, the Royal British Legion has also created a new Remembrance Glade that has been specially created with symbolic forms and feature plants. This provides a tranquil space for people to remember loved ones and contemplate what Remembrance means to them.
This year, as we did one hundred years ago, the Officers’ Association will be joining colleagues from a range of charities at the Cenotaph to honour and remember those that have served and sacrificed.
Since 1945, conflicts involving UK Forces have thankfully been on a smaller scale, but while needs change, the demand for support and assistance remains. We work today to champion the skills and abilities of officers to business and society, working with employers to assist them in recruiting officers and supporting retired officers and their families when needed.
As we once again remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, we aim to honour their memory by continuing this work. We believe that nobody who has served should ever be left behind.
When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.
The Kohima Epitaph – John Maxwell Edmond
Image is reproduced with kind permission from Babel.com.
BabelColour@ Stuart Humphryes