Remembrance Day ceremony held at Bagram Airfield
November 12, 2012
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Nov. 12, 2012) -- Approximately 300 service members gathered at the 9/11 memorial at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, to honor those who have paid the ultimate price during a Remembrance Day ceremony, Nov. 11, 2012.
British army Brig. Felix Gedney, the Regional Command-East deputy commanding general for support, laid a remembrance wreath before a somber crowd.
"Laying a wreath here in Afghanistan is particularly poignant as I am, sadly, all too often reminded of the sacrifice that many of our friends and colleagues have made," said Gedney. "In laying this wreath I honor our fallen, from the U.K., the commonwealth, all of the ISAF nations and our Afghan partners who have given their lives to secure the freedom of their fellow countrymen over the years, and particularly over the last 11 years here in Afghanistan."
For service members deployed to Afghanistan and assigned to Bagram Airfield, a true representation of countries which fought in World War I was accounted for. Soldiers from several NATO countries were in attendance and represented coalition forces fighting together in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, marks the end of hostilities of World War I, which occurred at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The remembrance ceremony held at Bagram Airfield was timed to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II laying her wreath of remembrance at the National Cenotaph in London, and as the United Kingdom held a two-minute silence to remember and reflect.
French army Lt. Col. Olivier Mouton, the Regional Command-East French senior liaison officer for Task Force La Fayette at Bagram Airfield, was on hand to pay tribute as well.
"As a French officer, it is very important for me to attend this ceremony," said Mouton. "Ninety-four years ago the bugle rang out to order ceasefire; two months before that my grandfather was killed in action, leaving four children behind. Seven members of my family were killed in action during the World War I, others were wounded, and I cannot imagine not paying tribute during this ceremony."
Even if there are no more survivors of World War I in France, Mouton added, the remembrance is present in every town and every village.
"All French families are deeply concerned," Mouton said. "The smallest of French villages has its proper war monument and each Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., the populace is gathered to celebrate the end of the World War I, and to remember and honor their heroes."
A poem titled, "In Flanders Fields," which inspired the tradition of wearing paper poppy flowers on one's lapel, was written during World War I by Canadian physician Lt. Col. John McCrae, might sum up the ceremony best with a portion as follows.
"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."