We will remember them | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column
This Sunday, at 11am, people across our borough and nation will stop what they are doing.
They will step out onto the doorstep, gather at our memorials, shed a tear for a friend or family member lost, and pay solemn remembrance to those who gave their today for our tomorrow.
This tradition began when, at 11am on the 11th November 1919, King George V asked nations across the Empire to fall silent. This was the first anniversary of the end of hostilities on the Western Front in the First World War. And that now continues not across an Empire, but across our Commonwealth of Nations.
It was around the same time that the wearing of poppies also emerged as a tradition, recognising the unique image these gave on the fields of the Western Front during intense fighting and shelling. And it has become an enduring symbol of remembrance ever since.
But it was on the third Armistice Day, in 1921, that artificial poppies were first sold in Britain. And just as now, the proceeds went to charity. Then it was to the Earl Haig Fund, to support ex-servicemen and the families of those who died at war. But wanting to combine efforts Lord Haig then pushed for the amalgamation of a number of organisations supporting veterans and their families into a single organisation – the British Legion – which he then served as President of until his death.
So popular was the wearing of a poppy in 1921 that just one year later the newly established British Legion established a factory to manufacture them, staffed by disabled veterans. That factory continues to this day and is where all our artificial poppies in the UK come from.
We have a proud history across our borough of support for the armed forces. Whether it is in the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force or Royal Marines, you will never be far from a Lancastrian or a Burnley native.
This year I know we will all come together once again, in Burnley and Padiham town centres, and in our villages, to pay respect and remembrance.
Finally, I want to say a big thank you to our local Burnley & Padiham Royal British Legion Branch. Manned by a small number of volunteers they work tirelessly to support our veterans, run the Remembrance service, and create the Remembrance Garden which contains 3,400 unnamed crosses.
Please do support them by visiting their store in Charter Walk.