Commemoration is seen as something more associated with the fallen heroes of World War One. It is sprinkled across our consciousness. In village halls and cemeteries. In churches and villages across the land. The memorials that sprung up after the end of the war were one symbol of that joint commemoration – to immortalise those who didn’t come home at the end of the war.
But for many commemoration was a chance to say thank you. An opportunity to express the gratitude when men and women you never knew, fought on behalf of you, for you. Returning employees were greeted with high teas and cash gifts. A local expression of a thank you that never seemed quite enough.
The servicemen and women were issued with medals, bravery awards and citations from a grateful government and nation. All too often these found their way into pawn shops.
Men who died on their return – some were given the full honours of a military funeral. They deserved nothing less.
But for most – commemoration was the patronage of the ‘Poppy Day’ – inaugurated in 1919 it was an annual reminder of Armistice Day. A reminder of the cost of war but also a reminder about the responsibilities of war. The ex-servicemen and women who served only to return to face personal, economic, social and physical issues long after the war had ended.