08 November, 2016

Remembrance Day

A day known throughout the British Commonwealth as Remembrance Day is known in the US as Veteran's Day.

The Corozal House of Culture has a supply of poppies available for a donation of whatever pocket change you may have.
Remembrance Day (Also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed since the end of the World War I to remember the members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty.

Corozal World War II Memorial
Remembrance Day was inaugurated by King George V in 1919. It's observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918.

The Armistice Agreement that ended the fighting was signed by Germany and the allies around 5:15 that morning. It stated that the fighting would cease at 11:00 AM the same day. World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June, 1919.
A Simple Poppy
The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. After reading the poem, Moina Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, wrote the poem, "We Shall Remember," and swore to wear a red poppy on the anniversary. The custom spread to Europe and the countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth within three years. Madame Anne E. Guerin tirelessly promoted the practice in Europe and the British Empire. In the UK Major George Howson fostered the cause with the support of General Haig. Poppies were worn for the first time at the 1921 anniversary ceremony. At first real poppies were worn. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders [Belgium] in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war -Wikipedia
It's my experience that in the US, the practice of wearing poppies to commemorate the day, even though it started in the US, has for all intents and purposes, died out. The day, instead of a memorial, now marks announcements of sales of everything imaginable, with very little lip service being paid to the original intent of the occasion.

Similarly to the US, at least among the people I've talked to, very few Belizeans have little more than a slight idea, if even that, of what the day commemorates, or what the poppy stands for. It's a shame really. The sacrifices and contributions of their forebears really should be known, remembered, and appreciated by all Belizeans.

The National Belize Ex-Servicemen's League sponsors the annual poppy sales here in Belize. The sales help support essential supplies for those veterans still living. There were 129 Belizean men who participated in World War I. 29 of them died in combat.

There were 1,500 Belizean men and 20 women who participated in World War II. The women took part as nurses from the British Red Cross Society, as the Belize Red Cross was known back then. 15 Veterans from WWII are still living in Belize, with 9 of them in desperate need of help.

Channel 7 News interviewed Valerie Richardson, National Belize Ex-Servicemen's League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Qz29UxEno

If you're interested in learning about the contributions and sacrifices made by more than 1,500 Belizean service men and women during World War II, there's several videos about the subject available on YouTube. I've highlighted some of the best.

I'm amazed that such a small country as Belize was able to provide such a relatively sizable number of personnel to help with the Commonwealth's part of the war effort.

West Indies Calling (1944) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViGwxJloI70 The West Indies, including Belize, helping Great Britain in World War II.

West Indians in World War II (2013) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYjP8oTAGlQ Contribution of service men and women from the British Empire and colonies to war effort in World War Two.

Lumberjacks from Belize During World War II (2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtBi3PiwL_U Tree fellers from Belize help with the British war effort in Scotland.

Channel 7 News, Belize City, http://7newsbelize.com/sstory.php?nid=17704 News story about two surviving Belizean tree fellers in World War II.

There is also a video, Tree Fellers (24 min). The video tells the story of the 900 Belizean lumberjacks who in 1942 left the tropical rain forests of British Honduras to help Britain fight fascism by felling trees in Scotland. See:http://www.asylumpictures.com/tree.htm or https://www.facebook.com/TreeFellersRevisited/

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