The Bugler

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London Poppies: "The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red"

Hopefully most of you saw coverage of the Armistice Day memorial at the Tower of London. Artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper constructed an unbelievable tribute titled, "The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" to the British servicemen who died in conflict during World War I. According to the Daily Mail, "The 888,246th flower - representing the life of the 888,246th person who died in action during the Great War - was planted by 13-year-old cadet Harry Hayes, heralding the completion of the magnificent tribute, which has seen the Tower's moat progressively filled with a sea of crimson blooms."

After the last poppy was placed by Hayes, whose family has a long history of military service to the Crown, the bugler sounded the Last Post just before 11am.

General the Lord Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, read from the famous poem "For The Fallen" before the crowd fell silent for the traditional two-minute silence.

The silence was also observed by millions across the country. This traditional two minutes of silence is observed all across the United Kingdom on Armistice Day. This is a tradition that would be a good idea for America to adopt. We do not have as long a history as England, and we tend to think history doesn't repeat itself. Maybe we should follow this fitting tribute from our motherland.

The ceramic poppies were sold to individuals with the proceeds going to six charities which support British veterans. The charities are the Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO), Combat Stress, Coming Home, Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion, and the SSAFA, which provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force and their families. Each of the charities will receive L1.2 million, the equivalent to $1.88 million US dollars. Over 5 million people are estimated to have visited the poppy fields since the installation started in July. Starting on the 12th, volunteers began removing the poppies. Anyone who bought a poppy for a contribution of 25 pounds will receive a poppy. The balance will go on tour and then will be permanently based at the Imperial War Museums in London and Manchester. Please visit the website and watch the segment showing how the poppies were made and the story of this tribute. You will be glad you did.

To see more stories about the London tribute see ABC.net.au.

As Thanksgiving approaches and everyone is looking forward to the season, it is important to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Although we are a different nation in many ways than we were 150 years ago, most of Lincoln's words are as relevant today as they were when he issued the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863.

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

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