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Remembrance 2008

12 November 2008

Festival of Remembrance 2008

The Annual Festival of Remembrance was held on Saturday 8 November 2008 at the Royal Albert Hall and was broadcast by the BBC. Performances included "River of Dreams" by Hayley Westenra, "Today Won't Come Again" by Jonathan Ansell and Hayley Westenra, "For the Fallen" by Katherine Jenkins with Alexie Kalveks and "In Flanders' Fields" by Blake.

A special video or DVD of the Festival will be available a few weeks after the event from the Legion's Poppy Appeal. Please send a cheque made payable to The Royal British Legion Trading for £9.99 specifying your prefered format (DVD/video), to:
Wendy Shone, Poppy Appeal, The Royal British Legion Village, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7NX. Or call 01622 795815 / 717172 ext 225.

Remembrance Sunday - 9 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday is a commemoration of the dead, not only of the two World Wars, but of all armed conflicts since. As Big Ben struck 11, a field gun was fired from nearby Horseguards Parade by the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery. It marked the start of the two-minute silence observed across the nation.

On Whitehall, no-one moved. Only the flags on the Cenotaph and the autumn leaves clinging to the trees twitched in the breeze. The buglers of the Royal Marines sounded the Last Post and the Queen, dressed in a black coat and hat, led the tributes, laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph. She was followed by all the senior royals except Prince Harry, who was with his regiment.

The Cenotaph ceremony is organised annually by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with the Legion coordinating the March Past. This year over 8000 veterans from over 200 regiments marched, led by the RAF which is 90 years old this year.

Similar ceremonies took place at the same time in towns and cities all over the country, at Ypres in Belgium and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Armistice Day - 90th Anniversary of World War I

A special 90th anniversary wreath-laying service took place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall at 11am.  Three remaining WWI veterans, standing alongside some of the most highly decorated of today’s servicemen, lay wreaths in memory of their fallen comrades. 

Bill Stone (108) represented the Royal Navy with Marine Mkhuseli Jones Military Cross, Harry Patch (110) represented the Army with Lance Corporal Beharry Victoria Cross, and Henry Allingham (112) represented the Royal Air Force with Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman Distinguished Flying Cross.

The veterans went on to 10 Downing Street to meet Gordon Brown, the new Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton and the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup.

Silence in the Square: Two Minute Silence

Ten thousand people participated in the Legion organised Two Minute Silence in Trafalgar Square at 11am on Tuesday 11 November. They were treated to an hour of special performances hosted by television presenter Ben Shephard. Highlights included poetry reading by acclaimed actor John Hurt, songs by Blake and Hayley Westenra and a special appearance by Rolf Harris and the Welsh choir Fron.

After watching a video link to Cenotaph Ceremony in Whitehall and observing the Two Minute Silence, everyone was invited to place poppy petals in the fountains as a gesture of reflection and hope. View more photos .

Hayley Westenra

Flanders' Field of Poppies

In Ypres, the Legion organised a Flanders' Field of Poppies. Members of the public were asked to write a short message on a cardboard poppy and volunteers from the Legion planted over 60,000 poppies on banks beside the Menin Gate and on the lawns at the top of the memorial, in preparation for Armistice Day.

On Armistice Day, there was an 11 o'clock service held at the Menin Gate, organised by The Last Post Association and attended by representatives of the Legion together with thousands of people who made the pilgrimage to Ypres to pay their respects. View photos.

Armistice Day at the National Memorial Arboretum

Another ceremony was held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Here there was also a two-minute silence, and a Royal Air Force flypast. The Armed Forces Memorial is designed so that at the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight will pass through it to illuminate a wreath on the central plinth – and so it did today. The Royal Family was represented by Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Also in attendance are the Right Honourable Bob Ainsworth MP Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Vice Admiral Sir John Dunt KCB, Vice Admiral Paul Boissier, Maj Gen Martin Rutledge, Air Marshal Stephen Dalton and the Legion's Director General, Chris Simpkins. A flypast of three Tornados, acknowledging the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, took place at midday.

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