Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries to remember the members of their armed forces who have died on duty since World War I. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognised as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries.
Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918, as the major hostilities of World War I were formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. (Note that "at the 11th hour", refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 a.m.)
The day was specifically dedicated by King George V, on 7 November 1919, to the observance of members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I. This was possibly done upon the suggestion of Edward George Honey to Wellesley Tudor Pole, who established two ceremonial periods of remembrance based on events in 1917.
The red poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilt in the war.
"Remembrance Day" is the primary designation for the day in many Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. However, "Armistice Day" (the event it commemorates) also remains, often to differentiate the event from Remembrance Sunday, and is the primary designation used in New Zealand and France.
"Poppy Day" is also a popular term used, particularly in Malta and South Africa. Veterans Day also falls upon this day in the United States, yet many other allied nations have quite different Veterans Days.
The common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC tradition includes either one or two minutes of silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:00 a.m., 11 November), as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom) when armistice became effective.
The Service of Remembrance in many Commonwealth countries generally includes the sounding of the "Last Post", followed by the period of silence, followed by the sounding of "The Rouse" (often mistakenly referred to as "Reveille"), and finished by a recitation of the "Ode of Remembrance". The "Flowers of the Forest", "O Valiant Hearts", "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and "Jerusalem" are often played during the service. Services also include wreaths laid to honour the fallen, a blessing, and national anthems. Mozambique does not observe the Remembrance Day.
In Australia Remembrance Day is always observed on 11 November, although the day is not a public holiday. Services are held at 11 a.m. at war memorials and schools in suburbs and towns across the country, at which the "Last Post" is sounded by a bugler and a one-minute silence is observed. In recent decades, however, Remembrance Day has been partly eclipsed by ANZAC Day (25 April) as the national day of war commemoration.