Shad ponders the poppies

Today is Remembrance Sunday and across the country people are gathering together to commemorate the ceasing of hostilities between two armies, the Allies and the Germans at the end of the First World War.  The agreement took effect at 11o’clock on 11th November 1918 after 4 years of fighting and is now remembered as Armistice Day which marks a sign of respect for the many millions of people who died in this war and the loved ones they left behind.  Wars have started for different reasons including religion, revenge and racism, and through the eyes of a cat looking at the devastating effects of armed conflict I can’t think of a single valid reason to start a war.  But fighting over a difference of opinion or a claim for territory is not a unique feature of humanity.  Many creatures in the animal kingdom do it as part of evolutionary survival including us cats, present company excepted of course.  My neocortex is more developed than most felines leading me to prefer a battle of wits to a battle of arms!

Despite the skilled methods humans use to wage war on each other, you also show extraordinary compassion towards those in need and great strength of character in difficult circumstances.  You have creativity, loyalty and courage, all qualities I see when I look at the faces of those depicted in the Battle of Britain Monument that John and I took pictures of during our trip to the London Eye.  This bronze and granite sculpture commemorates the military personnel who took part in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War and is situated along the Victorian Embankment of the River Thames.  It reminds me of the costs of war, like the bright red poppy which serves as a symbol of sadness and hope that one day all humans will live in harmony.   The Flanders poppies grew in the battle-scarred fields of Western Europe and flourished despite the landscape having been bombed again and again, providing inspiration for a poignant poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’.

Shad does Remembrance Sunday in Bognor

Remembrance Day is observed in many countries across the world as a way for people to reminisce about the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day, it marks the moment when warring forces agreed to stop fighting World War 1, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11thmonth.  Apparently, King George V initiated a 2 minute silence at exactly 11 o’clock to commemorate those who had died for their country in a war that marked the beginning of the use of modern technology in warfare and led to millions of deaths.

Hundreds of people attended the service at Bognor War Memorial on Sunday where poppy wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial. The poppy is seen as an appropriate colour to symbolise the blood spilled in the war, and poppies bloomed with vigour across some of the worse battlefields of the First World War. I climbed on to John’s shoulders to get a decent view and saw representatives from the Royal British Legion, the armed forces including army, air and sea cadets, and civic leaders, as well as St John Ambulance and the Salvation Army, to name but a few. I looked around during the 2 minutes of silence we observed at 11am and wondered how many untold stories there were in the crowd, stories of grueling boot camps, painful combat experiences, intense loss, inspiring strength, camaraderie, liberty and courage. It’s important to remember those who have given their lives in conflict and I was honoured to pay my respects to the soldiers who have died in battle as part of this tribute to our armed forces.