Poppies bloom on Remembrance Day

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Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and Northern France, and the poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation.

For ninety years that red flower has been worn as a symbol of remembrance for those who lost their lives, not just in the Great War, but in all wars and conflicts since.

The Royal British Legion Chonburi branch held a Service of Remembrance at St. Niklaus Church and on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month more than one hundred servicemen, veterans, family of servicemen and women, students and dignitaries bowed their head for two minutes of silence to remember those who have fallen.

British Ambassador, HE Asif Ahmad, gives the reading.British Ambassador, HE Asif Ahmad, gives the reading.

Father Michael Picharn of the Father Ray Foundation celebrated the Mass and delivered a sermon remembering the bravery of those who gave their lives to ensure the freedom of others.

The British ambassador, His Excellency Asif Ahmad, travelled from Bangkok to attend the service and gave the reading.

Afterwards, he told Pattaya Mail, “It really brings it home when you see the young men who are currently serving in Afghanistan giving the best years of their lives for our country… Last year after the remembrance Sunday at the embassy I had a conversation with the Royal British Legion and we together decided that we should change it a bit and bring the message home to younger people. I think after today’s service there can be no doubt in anybody’s mind that this about remembering those who gave their lives, also for the number of veterans attending the service and of course the younger generation so that they can see how important it is to remember in this way.”

Father Michael of the Father Ray Foundation celebrates Mass.Father Michael of the Father Ray Foundation celebrates Mass.

Other dignitaries attending included Gary Biesty, Honorary Irish Consul, as well as representatives from the US Embassy and the Thai, Australian and New Zealand military services, all of whom laid a wreath of poppies to remember the dead. Business leaders also attended, including Graham MacDonald, president of the Royal British Legion Thailand and chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce, and John Anderson, president of the Australian Chamber of Commerce.

Legion member George Barrie addresses the congregation.Legion member George Barrie addresses the congregation.

This year, 2011, is the ninetieth anniversary of when the first poppies were worn as a sign of remembrance. The first poppy appeal in 1921 raised £106,000 (more than thirty million pounds in today’s terms) and this year it is hoped that the Royal British Legion will raise more than forty million pounds to help support ex-service personnel and their families.

Support is given not just to those who fought in two World Wars, but also in the many conflicts since 1945 and those still fighting today.

The Royal British Legion in Pattaya meets weekly at Tropical Bert’s and more information can be found at www.rblthailand.com

The lowering of the British Legion standard.The lowering of the British Legion standard.

The British ambassador shares a moment with the Australian Defense Attaché Capt Jonathan Dudley and the New Zealand Defense Attaché  Brett Fotheringham.The British ambassador shares a moment with the Australian Defense Attaché Capt Jonathan Dudley and the New Zealand Defense Attaché  Brett Fotheringham.

Graham Macdonald the president of the Royal British Legion Thailand with standard bearer  Richard Holmes, the British Ambassador and Bert Elson.Graham Macdonald the president of the Royal British Legion Thailand with standard bearer  Richard Holmes, the British Ambassador and Bert Elson.

Members of the American military also attend the services.Members of the American military also attend the services.

Bert Elson, secretary & welfare chairman of the Royal British legion Thailand, gives a heartfelt reading.Bert Elson, secretary & welfare chairman of the Royal British legion Thailand, gives a heartfelt reading.

The church is well attended for this the second service of remembrance in Pattaya.The church is well attended for this the second service of remembrance in Pattaya.

Currently serving in Afghanistan Hughie Mackay from the 4th Scottish Regiment gets the proceedings underway with the bagpipes.Currently serving in Afghanistan Hughie Mackay from the 4th Scottish Regiment gets the proceedings underway with the bagpipes.

The British ambassador is joined by young Hughie Mackay, war veteran Brian Davidson, Colonel Yutthachai, the Irish Consul Gary Biesty and a veteran from the foreign wars Don Radcliff.The British ambassador is joined by young Hughie Mackay, war veteran Brian Davidson, Colonel Yutthachai, the Irish Consul Gary Biesty and a veteran from the foreign wars Don Radcliff.