[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] A two-minute silence has been held at 11 am this morning (Friday) in many parts of the world in commemoration of those who died serving their countries in times of war. The 11 November commemorates Armistice Day – the day when the guns fell silent at the end of the First World War at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. In the US, it is known as Veterans Day. Further commemorations will take place on Sunday when churches and local communities hold special services for what has become known as Remembrance Sunday.
The Anglican and Roman Catholic Primates of Ireland, Archbishops Richard Clarke and Eamon Martin, will jointly lay a wreath at the war memorial on the Mall in Armagh at 11 am on Remembrance Sunday. After the brief ceremony, both archbishops will attend a remembrance service in the city’s St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral.
It will be the first time that the two leaders have jointly laid a wreath for Remembrance Sunday and follows a joint cross-community peace pilgrimage that they led earlier this year to significant First World War battle sites in France and Belgium to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. In June, as part of the pilgrimage, the two leaders laid a wreath at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
More than 200,000 Irish-born soldiers served in the British Army and Navy from 1914 to 1918; and a quarter of them were killed.
The political situation between Britain and Ireland at the time meant that they were not remembered. The official memorial in Dublin was built outside the city centre and many remembrance events were attacked by nationalist protestors. On 8 November 1987, a bomb planted by Irish terror group the IRA killed eleven people and injured more than 60 others at a Remembrance Sunday event in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
But the situation has changed in recent years. In 2011, on her first visit to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth II laid wreaths at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge in Dublin; and also at the city’s Garden of Remembrance for those who died in the cause of Irish freedom.
The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has attended every Remembrance Sunday event in Enniskillen since 2012; and in 2014, the Irish Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall, was attended to lay a wreath at that, and all future, official commemorations at the service at the Cenotaph in Westminster, London led by the Bishop of London and attended by the Queen, senior British politicians, and Ambassadors and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries.
As part of today’s ceremonies, Prince Henry of Wales – better known as Prince Harry – led mourners at an Armistice Day service inside the Armed Forces Memorial at the UK’s National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. The prince laid a wreath and read Rupert Brooke’s First World War sonnet The Soldier: “If I should die, think only this of me:
that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England.”
Prince Harry chats with a military veteran at the Armed Forces Memorial
in Alrewas near Lichfield, in Staffordshire.
Photo: National Memorial Arboretum
To mark Armistice Day, the Church of England produced a new video in which various voices recite Robert Laurence Binyon’s iconic poem, For the Fallen.
The Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby led a brief commemoration for staff and visitors to Lambeth Palace. He later Tweeted a photo, saying: “We gathered this morning to remember the fallen and pray for harmony among nations.”