888,246 ceramic poppy have been planted in the dry moat of the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Each poppy represents a British or Commonwealth soldier who lost his life during the War. The red sea of poppies creates a spectacular and moving visual effect, depicting the unimaginable magnitude of the loss and devastation caused by the Great War. The installation, created by British artist Paul Cummins, is called “Blood swept Lands and Seas of Red” and since it opened in August, has been visited by over four million people.
The red poppy has become a familiar emblem of the First World War. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders and the Somme, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled. Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) is observed every year in Britain and worldwide on the 11th of November to recall the official end of World War I. On that date in 1918 hostilities ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.
In Britain paper poppies are sold every October and November to raise money for military service charities. The slogan of the fundraising campaign is “Wear your poppy with pride” and everyone from school children to television presenters to politicians to the Queen is seen with a poppy in their jacket lapel at this time of year.
Extract from “For the Fallen”, a famous poem written by Laurence Binyon a medical orderly in France during World War I:
“They should not grow old,
As we that are left grow old;
Age shall not wary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We will remember them.”
For more images of the Tower of London poppy installation visit: www.poppies.hrp.org.uk