Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty.
Remembrance Day is observed each year on the 11th of November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918; hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.
Over time it has become customary to remember the Fallen by observing a symbolic silence. Not only soldiers but also civilians are honoured in this way.
In South Africa one of the first instances where this tradition was honoured was at a church service in Cape Town. The city was in mourning after the publication of South Africa’s first casualty list from Word War 1 in 1916. A local businessman, Mr. J.A. Eggar, proposed that the congregation at a church service should keep a minute’s silence to honour the Fallen. At the time it received no publicity.
The famous South African author, politician and mining financier, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, is credited with the idea of a two-minute silence. His eldest son, Major Percy Nugent George Fitzpatrick, was killed in action in Beaumitz, France, in December 1917. On 27 October 1919 Sir Percy, through Lord Milner, the former High Commissioner for South Africa, proposed to King George V that a moment of silence be observed annually on November 11, in honour of the dead of World War 1. On 17 November, King George proclaimed that ‘at the hour when Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities … so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.’
The 1st minute of the silence period is in thanksgiving for those who have survived, while the second minute is to remember the Fallen.
SAMVOA veterans proudly participate in Remembrance Day services conducted across the country each year on November the 11th, where a SAMVOA regional representative lays a wreath on behalf of those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice on the battlefields of Africa, Asia, Europe, in the air and on the sea.
Lest we forget