“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”
888,246 ceramic poppies, created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins surround the Tower of London.
A river of blood.
Each poppy represents a British military fatality during the First World War.
There would need to be a further 383,800 to represent British military fatalities in WWII.
Or 85 million poppies to represent each life lost, military and civilian, worldwide, in WWII
And yet another 18 million to represent each life lost, military and civilian in WWI
And how many millions more for each of those who survived; their lives forever changed by the horrors and hardships, maimed, orphaned, scarred…
Men, women and children… and the animals we take to war also.
And how many poppies for all those lives lost since to the bloody machine of war…?
And still we fight…?
There is no glory in war.
Anthem for doomed youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
By Wilfred Owen, killed at Ors,
on 4 November 1918, at the age of 25.
Lest we forget.