UK Comes Together in Distant Silence on Armistice Day

November 11, 2020 Updated: November 11, 2020

Just as it has for over a century, the nation joined in silence at 11 a.m. today to honour its war dead on Armistice Day.

Although they were able to share those two minutes of silence, many people across the UK could not attend the usual remembrance services at war memorials and cenotaphs due to lockdown and social-distancing restrictions.

Instead, many stood on their doorsteps as veterans saluted their fallen companions-in-arms.

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Veterans arrive to observe a 2-minute silence for Armistice Day in remembrance of the nation’s war dead on Nov. 11, 2020, in London. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)

Those remembrance services that went ahead were limited in numbers, and attendees were asked to observe social distancing rules.

The two-minute silence marks the end of the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918.

“Armistice is Latin for to stand (still) arms,” according to the British Legion.

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Victoria Cross recipient Johnson Beharry arrives at Westminster Abbey to attend a service to mark Armistice Day and the centenary of the burial of the unknown warrior on Nov. 11, 2020, in London, England. (Aaron Chown/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

With England under lockdown, even the grand Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London over the weekend, attended by Boris Johnson and other national leaders had scaled back.

“We recognise this will be deeply disappointing for all who were due to take part and it is not a step that has been taken lightly,” the British Legion said, in an explanation of why the veterans parade on Sunday was not going ahead.

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Veterans observe a 2-minute silence for Armistice Day in remembrance of the nation’s war dead on Nov. 11, 2020, at the Cenotaph in London. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)

In place of parades and ceremonies for many veterans were live-streams and recorded videos.

Veterans were encouraged to stand on their doorstep to mark the two minutes of silence today.

The annual service in Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior went ahead with reduced numbers, but with the prime minister in attendance as usual.

That service commemorates the funeral of an unknown serviceman who died in Northern France.

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A member of the Queen’s Guard holds a wreath as he prepares to observe a 2-minute silence for Armistice Day in remembrance of the nation’s war dead on Nov. 11, 2020, in London. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP)

He was buried in the abbey on November 11, 1920, as a symbol of all who lost their lives in the First World War—but whose bodies were never found.

The silence on Armistice Day falls at 11 a.m. because that marks the official end of the four-year hostilities between Germany and the Allies—at the ‘11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month’ of 1918.

World War 2 Veteran Captain Sir Tom Moor, famous for his fund-raising efforts during the pandemic, wrote a brief note commemorating the day.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” said the 100-year-old on message on Twitter. “So I’ll always remember: For all our tomorrows, they gave their today.”

 

 

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