Celebrating Remembrance Day and Veteran’s Day At The Same Time
I’m an American visiting with family in Wales for a little vacation. My Mom grew up here in Newport, and I love it here. I arrived Saturday, just in time to celebrate Remembrance Day with my family here on Sunday.
I’m staying with my cousin Kerry (actually my mom’s cousin’s daughter, but we decided last visit that’s too long an explanation) and her dad is a veteran. A very proud veteran in the Royal Navy,
When they told me we were going to a parade, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love parades, though, so I was game.
It was cold, and I didn’t bring a big coat on my trip, because my mom insisted I must. I’m 59-years old and still rebelling. But really, my layers were fine. Mom should have told me to bring gloves. My hands were very cold. Pockets. We need more pockets in women’s clothes.
The parade was a sight to behold. No fancy floats. Just a lot of soldiers, and scouts, and bobbies, and politicians, and firefighters, and all kinds of other organizations I can’t recall, all coming together to remember those members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty. It’s celebrated the closest Sunday to November 11, or Armistice Day commemorating the end of World War 1 ended, on 11/11/1918, at 11:00.
There was little in the way of long speeches, just short prayers for each division of the military, then the placing of wreaths of poppies on the monument in honor of those this day celebrates.
We sang, including God Save the Queen and a few other beautiful songs with which I was not familiar. It was quite moving for me, who feels thoroughly American, but also part Welsh. These are also my people.
For the recessional, the mayor stood on a stand and saluted the troops as they marched back by.
Today it is Veteran’s Day in the United States. I always get a bit miffed that many Americans obviously don’t know the difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day, in May, is the equivalent of Remembrance Day in the U.K. It remembers those soldiers who have died in service to our country. Veteran’s Day celebrates the veterans who have served in the U.S. military and been honorably discharged.
So this year I get the privilege to commemorate those who died in duty to the United Kingdom’s armed forces and also those who have served honorably in the armed forces in my United States. My life has been impacted by all.
It also reminds me of the staggering number of people necessary to maintain a strong military, and all of the lives lost around the world due to war. It often seems so unnecessary and futile to me, even though I appreciate a country’s need to keep its people safe in this world.
On this day I wish for peace, not just for the U.S. and U.K., but for all the countries in the world. I wish there were no divisions, and no cause greater than a world of peace.
But in the meantime, I remember those U.K. soldiers who have died in duty and their families who still mourn them, and all those in the U.S. who have served in the forces so honorably. You are all a part of me. May you know peace.