Poppy parade for Armistice Day
Yves Leterme laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Brussels.
12 Novermber 2008
Prime Minister Yves Leterme laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Brussels. In Ypres, where a half a million casualties fell during the 1914-1918 war there were several commemorative ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the end of the Great War.
Ministers, ambassadors, relatives of the deceased and others were moved by the 'Poppy Parade' in Ypres. The poppy is the symbol of 'Flanders Fields', the generic name of the World War I battlefields in the area around Ypres.
The ceremony ended with the 'Last Post' played at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
The Menin Gate Memorial commemorates the soldiers of the British Army who lost their lives fighting in the Ypres Salient on 16 August 1917, who have no known grave.
The remains of over 90,000 of them have never been found or identified.
Every evening since 1928 traffic around the impressive arches of the Menin Gate Memorial has been stopped while the Last Post is sounded beneath the Gate by the local fire brigade.
The ceremony was prohibited by occupying German forces during World War II but was resumed on the evening of liberation 6 September, 1944.
Every day since then the last post is played without fail.
Wreath on Tomb of Unknown Soldier
In Brussels PM Yves Leterme, together with his vice premiers and Prince Filip laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Representatives of all the governments in Belgium and some veterans from World War II were also present. There are no more World War I veterans left in Belgium.
Why is the poppy the symbol of the Great War?
The poppy is the symbol of WWI because the red-coloured corn poppy was one of the only plants that grew on the battlefields. During the few weeks the plant blossomed, the battlefields were coloured a deep blood red- this is of course a metaphor not just for the colour of the flowers, but for the blood amply shed on the battlefields of Flanders Fields.
Commemoration in Passendale
On the eve of Armistice Day a ceremony was help at Passendale. Passendale was the scene of the bloodiest battles during the Great War in 1917 and 1918.
More than any other battle, Passchendaele has come to symbolise the horrific nature of the attritional trench warfare of the First World War. After months of fighting the allies had crawled forward only 8 kilometres, but they had gained the high ground that dominated the salient.
In total 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died. There are only 7 WWI veterans still alive in the world.