Tomorrow is November 11, Veteran’s Day, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. In the UK and the Commonwealth, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day takes on more significance in the UK than here. Perhaps because 888,246 Commonwealth lives were lost in World War I. 888,246. that’s a staggering number. Can you imagine? Everyone in the UK must have been personally affected by that war.

This year the UK is marking Remembrance Day in a truly remarkable way. At the Tower of London 888,246 ceramic poppies are being planted, one for each life lost. The poppies could be purchased for 25 pounds each and will be sent to the donors in January.

I first heard of this project when I visited the Tower of London and saw the poppies that had been planted in the moat so far.IMG_0883
You can see the individual poppies in this photo.

That was the beginning of September. Now the whole moat is filled. The poppies now bleed from a bastion window, arc above the Tower’s medieval causeway, flow over the top of the walls and fill the moat with a sea of crimson.

The idea for this art project came from this poem:

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

The blood swept lands and seas of red,
Where angels dare to tread.
As God cried a tear of pain as the angels fell,
Again and again.
As the tears of mine fell to the ground
To sleep with the flowers of red
As any be dead
My children see and work through fields of my
Own with corn and wheat,
Blessed by love so far from pain of my resting
Fields so far from my love.
It be time to put my hand up and end this pain
Of living hell. to see the people around me
Fall someone angel as the mist falls around
And the rain so thick with black thunder I hear
Over the clouds, to sleep forever and kiss
The flower of my people gone before time
To sleep and cry no more
I put my hand up and see the land of red,
This is my time to go over,
I may not come back
So sleep, kiss the boys for me

So, tomorrow, think of the 888,246 lives represented in the Tower’s moat. Think, as well, of the 116,516 American dead. Think of all the soldiers who have died in wars in these last 100 years.

And honor them.

Do you have a particular person to remember on Veteran’s Day? Mine is my father, Col. Daniel J. Gaston, who spent a whole career in the army.