Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. 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 am.)
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 officially observed in Northern Ireland in the same way as in the rest of the United Kingdom. However the day has tended to be associated with the unionist community and ignored or opposed by Irish nationalists/republicans. The reason for this opposition is partly ideological and partly due to the actions of the British Army during “The Troubles” – especially incidents such as the Falls Curfew, the Ballymurphy massacre, Bloody Sunday and the Miami Showband killings. However some nationalists, especially Roman Catholic priests, began to attend Remembrance Day events as a way to connect with the unionist community. In 1987 a bomb was detonated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army just before a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Enniskillen, killing eleven people. The bombing was widely condemned and attendance at Remembrance events, by both nationalists and unionists, rose in the following years.