Sunday, 13 November 2011
Throughout Orkney on Friday there were Remembrance parades and the laying of wreaths at War Memorials in each parish. A ceremony that will be carried out throughout the UK and many other countries (though in some countries it is referred to as Armistice Day). Graemsay has no war memorial of it's own, but a wreath is laid on behalf of the Graemsay, Hoy and Walls communities at the Memorials on the island of Hoy. There was a large naval base at Lyness on Hoy during WWII and there is a large military cemetery there including graves of those lost at the sinking of the Royal Oak. The Scapa Flow Museum at Lyness tells the story of the naval history on the island during WWII. Warships based in Orkney also escorted merchant ships carrying supplies through to Russia and there is a joint Orkney and Russian War Memorial at Lyness too.
Kirkwall held a service of Remembrance at the St Magnus Cathedral on Friday. This was timed to coincide with the two minute silence which is observed throughout the UK - at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month - to mark the anniversary when the guns fell silent on the battlefields at the end of WWI in 1918.
Of course there is added poignancy these days with the British forces (as well as others from around the world) involved in ongoing conflicts far from home. While we may not support the choices of governments to enter conflicts, it is right (I believe) that we honour the men and women who give the ultimate sacrifice.
In the UK the Royal British Legion hold a "poppy appeal", donations are made and poppies worn in support of the charitable works undertaken by "the Legion", as everyone calls it. The Legion works to help all generations and families of the armed forces past and present. In Trafalgar Square poppy petals were thrown into the fountains as a mark of remembrance.
"Lest we forget..."