PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

Special Anniversary: 100 years of the end of World War One

On the 11th of November 1918, after four years of a bloody fight, the armistice was signed meaning it was the end of the Great War. Countries finally found peace and the soldiers could finally come back home.

This year, the remembrance is very special because it is the first century since the armistice was signed. So why do we remember this date? A lot of time has passed since the end of the war, however, this is not a reason for us to forgot. It is our duty. It is time to remember all the soldiers who died for their countries and, also, to remember the advantages of living in times of peace.

When I came here to Cardiff, I learnt some interesting things: the first one is that the 1st and the 11th of November are not bank holidays, unlike in my country, France. The other thing is the reason why there are poppies in all the cities I visited since the end of October. After a quick search on the internet, I finally found the answer. This flower is associated with the remembrance of dead soldiers during World War One. A charity sells plastic poppies and the profits go to the soldiers who served their country and their families. The poppies have two meanings: They can be a symbol of dead soldiers (the colours black and red are a direct reference to the bullet and the blood); or they may carry a spiritual meaning. Poppies grow and bloom everywhere, even in a battlefield. So, even in the worst situation, something beautiful can be seen. It is the scenery of John McCrae’s beautiful poem “In Flanders Fields”, poppies and the war.

In France, we have a similar tradition with the bleuets (cornflower), but the meaning is slightly different. Above all, this day is a public holiday and there is a special commemoration with the president. Until 2011, they would go to the grave of the Unknown Soldier, which is under the Arch of Triumph, deposit flowers and talk to the Poilus (nickname of French soldiers who fought during this war). The last veteran died in 2012.

See below the poem written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields", May 3, 1915: 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly 
Scarce heard amid the guns below. 

 We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields. 

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.
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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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