Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday 2023 

Remembrance day poppies

Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday 2023 

The weekend of November 11 marked the annual Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday memorial in the UK and Commonwealth. Birchwood Care Services joined the nation in honouring members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty during the First World War and beyond. The memorial allows us to collectively pause, reflect, and express our gratitude for the sacrifices made by all, both past and present. Our remembrance carries through to this blog, where we consider the origins and symbols of this memorial and pay homage to our client and veteran, Mr MC.  

Supporting our local veterans 

Remembrance Sunday also serves a day to acknowledge the impact of war on individuals and communities. The power of remembrance lies in its ability to foster empathy, understanding, and unity. As caregivers, we understand the importance of acknowledging the experiences of those who have served and creating a kind, compassionate, and supportive environment for them. 

It is through remembrance that we help these heroes’ legacies to live on. By taking the time to listen to the stories of our veteran clients, we also gain insights into their unique journeys, allowing us to provide personalised and compassionate care. This allows us to show kindness and compassion, as we extend our deepest gratitude to the veterans under our care and to all those who have served.  

One such client is Mr MC (pictured below) and his wife. Mr MC served as a member of the Royal Air Force (RAF) for five years and was based in Bircham Norton, Norfolk. It was during this time that he met his wife, who was also a serving member of the RAF.

Red poppies and Flanders Fields 

The red poppy has become a symbol of remembrance and hope for a peaceful future. They are worn as a show of support and respect for the Armed Forces community. The roots of this tradition are drawn from a poem by Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. After the loss of a friend in the Belgium town of Ypres, the Lieutenant Colonel was moved by the sight of Flanders poppies growing across battle-scarred fields. He composed ‘In Flanders Fields’ in the Spring of 1915, which reads as follows: 

In Flanders Fields 

by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae 

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place: and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

We are the dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders’ fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe; 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high, 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow  
In Flanders’ Fields 

The Act of Remembrance 

There are many ways to partake in an act of remembrance. In the words of the Royal British Legion, “Remembrance unites people of all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds but it is also deeply personal. It could mean wearing a poppy in November, before Remembrance Sunday.  It could mean joining with others in your community on a commemorative anniversary. Or it could mean taking a moment on your own to pause and reflect. Everyone is free to remember in their own way, or to choose not to remember at all.” 

One focal part of many Remembrance commemorations and services is the Act of Remembrance. This traditionally takes place on the 11th day of the 11th month of each year to mark the official signing of the Armistice ending the First World War in 1918, with Armistice meaning to stand (still) arms in Latin. 

The Act of Remembrance begins with the reciting of The Exhortation: 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them. 

The Last Post is sounded (A Piper Lament may be included in Scotland) and the Two Minute Silence is observed at 11:00. Reveille is sounded, and The Kohima Epitaph may be recited: 

When you go home, tell them of us and say, 
For your tomorrow, we gave our today. 

More than a date 

Remembrance Sunday is more than just a date on the calendar – it is a collective act of gratitude and reflection that transcends generations. Its origins and traditions hold a poignant significance as they are carried through each year, as do the lives and stories they honour. As caregivers, we have the privilege and responsibility of supporting some of the brave men and women who have served. In honouring their courage and acts of selflessness, we reinforce our commitment to providing compassionate care that recognises the profound impact of their service. Lest we forget. 


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