Observing Remembrance Day with Kids in London

You know that our past couple of weeks have gone by obsessing over poppies and Remembrance Day. We read all that we could about them, we learned the poem In Flanders Fields by heart and we even made poppy craft for LittleB’s room. (You can read all about Remembrance Day and its significance, our fascination with Remembrance Day and instructions to poppy craft here.)

However sometimes such becomes the thirst for exploring something new that it almost becomes unquenchable. And so it happened with us. LittleB wanted to know more and even more. MrB suggested that it would be for the best that we headed out to central London on 13th of November, i.e. Remembrance Day to see things for ourselves. And so we did.

Observing Remembrance Day With Kids

The Cenotaph Service is organized every year at the Cenotaph, Whitehall. The Queen leads the commemorations by laying the first poppy wreath at the war memorial. That is what we were interested in.

On the chilly day of 13th November, we changed two trains and reached Westminster. Our original plan was to go to The Cenotaph which officially hosts the Remembrance Day services. However, it seemed that we reached there quite late because the entire area around it was packed and there seemed no way that we could see the main ceremony.

The Cenotaph Veterans March Past

We were adamant to see the ceremony, or at least as much as we could. As we walked towards the Great George Street, we found barricades placed along the road. We found out that following the main ceremony at the Cenotaph, a veteran’s march past takes place on this road. So we found ourselves a fine spot to observe the march past and waited for it.

Remembrance day veterans parade

As the clock struck 11 and the Big Ben chimed, a two-minute silence was observed to show respect to those affected by war. In a bustling city like London, “silence” is a non-existent thing. But at that time, it seemed as if the entire London had stopped for the moment.

We must have waited there for another 30 minutes or so after which the march past started. Military marching bands commenced the parade with their booming drums and trombones. The music was infectious compelling veterans to march in perfect steps in unison. Over 8,500 veterans participated in the march past. The parade was LittleB’s first one in person and so she was spellbound. For me the parade was inspiring. Watching veterans, young and old, who have probably seen and experienced the worst in the world, march in their best gait! It was moving and comforting at the same time.

Observing remembrance day with kids

I compiled a video of the parade, have a look at it. The video also has a few clicks from our day later.

Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance

Once we were done with the parade, we walked over to Westminster Abbey for another important Remembrance Day event. Every year, The Poppy Factory organises the Field of Remembrance at the St Margaret’s Church (at the lawn between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament). The entire lawn is planted with wooden crosses, also called “tributes.” Each wooden cross has a hand written message for a soldier who has lost his or her life in the service of the UK. The wooden crosses are planted there by family or friends of that individual.

The entire Field of Remembrance looked like a scene from the poem In Flanders Fields. There were rows and rows and rows of poppy-adorned crosses. It felt like a walk through a cemetery; a cemetery where those buried were my own in some way.

After that we took a walk towards the Thames and saw it over the Westminster Bridge. It was crowded (well, when exactly is the city not crowded?!) with almost every other person proudly showing off his/her poppy pin.

LittleB has a habit of drawing out or writing down anything new she comes across. So when we came back home, this is what she came up with –

LittleB's Remembrance Day observation

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