The 11th of November marks a special day in World history. It was at 11 a.m. on that day 96 years ago that an agreement came into force that officially ended the First World War.
The agreement, which was signed in a railway carriage, was called the Armistice of Compiègne, after the location in France where leaders of the warring parties had gathered to put an end to the fighting that had caused so much death and devastation since the start of hostilities in 1914.
Estimates of people killed in what is also called the Great War vary, but it is generally agreed that more than 9 million service personnel and 7 million civilians lost their lives.
It is as a tribute to those that lost their lives, and as a reminder of the horrors of war, that many countries still observe an official two-minute silence at 11 o’clock on the 11th of November each year. 2014 is also a special year of commemoration – 100 years since the beginning of the First World War, and many countries have observed this anniversary with special memorial events.
I was recently in London to visit the amazing display of ceramic poppies that have been progressively placed in the moat area surrounding the Tower of London. It has been estimated that around 4.5 million people have visited the display. The concept was created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper. An incredible 888,246 ceramic poppies, the amount of British and British Commonwealth service personnel lives lost, will be in place by the 11th of November. The installation is entitled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”
The poppies were offered for sale for 25 GBP each and have been sold out, with all net proceeds going to service charities. After the 11th the poppies will be removed from the moat and be sent to their proud new owners.
Of course, over the years many countries have issued stamps relevant to the First World War and many people collect items related to that conflict.
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