Across the country and here in Newquay Remembrance Day fills our thoughts. Sunday 14 November 2010, and possibly the wettest day of the year in Newquay so not ideal for parades.
But as always the veterans of the Second World War and many smaller conflicts since were seen proudly wearing there uniforms and heading to the main parade as well as Church services held around the town both in St Michael’s church and also in St Column minor.
In particular the surviving service men and women from the Second World War dressed in full uniform with medals attached and hardly seemed to notice the weather. No doubt compared to what they went through over 60 years ago and the thought of their fallen comrades makes a bit of rain insignificant.
Last year saw the remaining three First World War veterans attending a remembrance day parade, aptly one from the army, navy and air force remained. Unfortunately in the following 12 months all 3 of these men passed away.
The Royal British Legion do a great deal more with the poppy money than most people realise. They help over 130,000 armed forces dependants as well as veterans from many previous conflicts and those bereaved by the same. This costs over £1 million per week at the moment all of which is paid for by their fund raising activities, which raised over £100m last year (poppies accounting for £31m of that amount). The Legion currently has around 380,000 members and was founded in 1921 as a merger of the comrades of the Great War, the National Association of Discharged sailors and soldiers, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers and the officers association. It was granted a Royal Charter on 29 May 1971 to mark its 50th anniversary which gives the Legion the prefix “Royal”.
The figure for the amount of money they raise and the amount of people they help amazed me but it is nothing compared to the 9.5 million people eligible for help in Britain! To qualify for help you need to have served or be serving in the armed forces for at least 7 days or are a dependant of someone who has. The work the charity does varies from home help for veterans to campaigning for better compensation payments to the wounded. They now work a great deal with survivors and grieving families of those killed in Afghanistan, as an example the legion paid of a widows debts, brought new household goods for the family and even paid for school uniforms in an attempt to help them to rebuild their life. Before looking into more detail about poppy day I never realised that it helped so many people and hearing how they helped the family above made me realise how important making a donation is where you choose to actually take a poppy in return or not.
The Poppies are still made in Britain, by a team of 50 people – most of them disabled and service connected – working all year in a factory in Richmond in Surrey to make 38 million poppies, 5 million Remembrance petals, 900,000 crosses and 100,000 wreaths including those laid by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.
Buying a poppy says that, while many of us do not remember what they did for us, we still appreciate it and offer our donation to help the survivors and their families. No matter how old you are or whether you know someone in the forces or not you owe your freedom to the people that fought in both of the world wars. Now knowing a great deal more than I did previously I know that poppy day will not stop now or probably ever, as there will always be people that are fighting on our behalf and unfortunately because of this always families to help.
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