By Rachel Hally, ProQuest Product Manager
November 11 marks Remembrance Day around the world, when fallen members of the armed services are commemorated and celebrated for giving the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their countries.
Established after the end of World War I, Remembrance Day is celebrated at 11:00 a.m. local time on November 11, the exact time when hostilities ceased in 1918. Initially created to memorialize the lives of soldiers, sailors, and airmen from the Commonwealth countries who were killed in the conflict, the day is now marked by nations around the world.
In the United States, President Woodrow Wilson first ordered that the country would observe Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, saying, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”
Following World War II and the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Presidential Proclamation 3071, renaming the holiday Veterans Day.
The red poppy is the worldwide symbol of Remembrance Day, because a Canadian physician, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, penned these words in his poem “In Flanders Fields,” as a memorial to the place where so many fallen soldiers now lay for eternity:
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.
Researchers can explore more poetry and even drawings of the daily lives, thoughts, and feelings of soldiers serving in World War I, via ProQuest Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War. Published by every type of military and support service unit from every involved nation, trench journals were a means of expression for men and women in World War I. Now that these magazines are discoverable online, Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War opens up new opportunities for research in multiple fields: literature, history, war studies, cultural studies, and gender studies.
Extensive coverage of World War I, and subsequent celebrations of Armistice Day and then Veterans Day, is also available to researchers in ProQuest Congressional. An example would be the House of Representatives’ chaplain opening Congress on Monday, November 11, 1918, with this as part of his convocation:
Our Father in heaven, we approach Thee with gratitute welling up in our hearts and praise upon our lips, that truth has again vindicated itself, right is marching on, and Thy will is in the ascendency…
Let Thy wisdom descend upon those of the entente powers whose business it shall be to readjust the affairs of the world, that they may make it a safer place for Thy children to dwell in; that wars shall forever cease and peace reign.
- From Congressional Record, November 11, 1918
Librarians: learn more and sign up for free trials of Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations and other ProQuest resources, including ebooks, history and the Political Science Perpetual Collection, with valuable content on world conflicts.