Paws for thought

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 November, 2011, 12:00am


Greetings from the veld, puppyteers!

I'm having a marvellous time over here in South Africa - can't wait to tell you about it all in detail when I get back - but I thought I'd use today's column to talk about Remembrance Day.

Today is a notable date - 11/11/11 - but more than that, it's the anniversary of the day the first world war ended in 1918. The following year in Britain, King George V dedicated November 11 as a day of remembrance, to honour the soldiers who had been killed during the 'Great War'.

Now the date is used to pay tribute to all troops who have fallen since that war. A two-minute silence begins at 11am (on the 11th of the 11th), during which people reflect on the sacrifices made by the armed forces during war.

In Britain, the main commemoration takes place on the second Sunday of November, and is known as Remembrance Sunday. And although Hong Kong is no longer part of the Commonwealth, there is an annual memorial service, open to everyone, at the Cenotaph near Statue Square in Central. It starts at 10.45am.

Remembrance Day is also called Poppy Day. In many countries, paper poppies are sold in the lead up to the day to raise funds for charities that support those who have served, or are currently serving, in the armed forces.

The poppy was chosen to represent this occasion after the publication of the first world war poem In Flanders Fields. This poem is about the cemeteries in Belgium filled with soldiers. Thousands of bright red poppies grew between the graves, and so they became a symbol of remembrance.

In Hong Kong, the poppies are sold on the streets of Hong Kong Island the day before Remembrance Sunday. It's a very worthy cause, so if you see someone selling them, donate what you can. Remember, though, that these poppies are not fashion accessories - they're symbols of sacrifice. So if you buy one, spend a moment silently thinking of those who defend their countries.