Thursday, November 6, 2008

Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey

Thousands of tiny, wooden Remembrance Crosses were planted this week at Westminster Abbey, London, in preparation of Britain's annual commemoration of those who sacrificed their lives in war.

This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday when there will be a parade and service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Ceremonies will also be held across the nation, with other events taking place over the week.

But on Tuesday morning members of the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory were on their knees in front of Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's Church hammering the crosses into the ground.

Each cross had a poppy attached and on the crosses are the names and sometimes a message in tribute to those who have died in the two World Wars and later conflicts. Some crosses simply read, 'Unknown Soldier.'

The crosses are provided by the Legion to ex-service men and women who wish to remember fallen comrades, and also to members of the public who wish to commemorate a loved one.

The Legion set out the crosses in plots representing 250 Regiments and Associations, and while they deal with most of the crosses for people, individuals are also able to go to the Abbey to write and plant their own cross there.

Watching and taking photos were tourists milling around the Abbey and church. Nearby, a yeoman in full red regalia stood in the entrance to the Abbey.

The Remembrance events mark the end of the working year for the Poppy Factory, a charity employing 50 people who are mostly disabled and connected to the Services.

During that time they make 38 million Remembrance poppies,
5 million Remembrance petals, 900,000
crosses and 100,000 wreaths.

Last year their Annual Poppy Appeal raised £30.6 million and they been sole poppy makers since 1922.

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, opened the Field of Remembrance on Thursday.

Other events include a Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and the annual observance of The Two Minute Silence.

The Silence is held across the nation on Armistice Day, the day which marks the end of the First World War, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, which this year falls on Tuesday.

A special event surrounding this has been organised in Trafalgar Square as this November marks the 90th anniversary of the end of The Great War. Taking part will be actor John Hurt who will read, 'Do not stand at my grave and weep.'

At the end of the event, members of the public will be invited to put poppies into the fountains in an act of remembrance.

In honour of the 90th anniversary, the Legion are also planting a Flanders' Field of Poppies.

News of the work and events of the Royal British Legion is on their website:

A report of the ceremony of the opening of the Field of Remembrance - there is a similar Field in Cardiff - can be read on the Legion's website and also on the Abbey's website:

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