In the United States, Memorial Day means taking some time off with our families to remember those who died serving the country’s armed forces, before making a beeline for barbecued chicken. We celebrate with potlucks and a lot of proud red, white and blue amongst family and friends, but we’re not the only ones with a day of remembrance. Here are just a few ways people around the world honor, reflect on and celebrate their nation’s past:
United Kingdom: Remembrance Sunday
Across the pond, people commemorate their fallen on the Sunday closest to November 11, Armistice Day — which celebrates the end of World War I — by wearing the poppy or laying wreaths of poppies at graves and war memorials. The poppy came to symbolize the bravery of soldiers as the result of the poem “In Flanders Field” by a Canadian surgeon named John McCrae, who served in World War I. The poem paints a potent image of the courageous British soldier fallen in the fields of poppies, which grew in Flanders and France, far from their homes.
Israel: Yom Hazikaron
Yom Hazikaron, celebrated on Iyar 4, in the second month of the Hebrew calendar on the day before the celebration of Israel’s independence, is a far more solemn affair than our own Memorial Day. Shops, restaurants and theaters close their doors, and general programming focuses on stories about Israeli wars. The air raid siren goes off twice, and all activity stops in respect of those who lost their lives fighting for Israel.
Australia: Anzac Day
Anzac stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On April 25 of each year, Australia commemorates the participation of the ANZAC troops in the Battle of Gallipoli of World War I. The Battle of Gallipoli was a disastrous, failed attempt to capture Constantinople, but for the then-newly federated Australia, it marked the emergence of a defined national character and proud legacy for the budding nation. Australians honor their fallen and their history with a dawn service, among others, and later, with drinking, football and a gambling game called two-up, which was a favorite pastime of the soldiers.
Turkey: Martyrs Day
On the winning side of that battle, if not the war itself, is Turkey, the nation which emerged from the victorious Ottoman Empire. The Turkish honor their fallen on March 18, which marks the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli. Memorials, largely presided over by government officials, are held throughout the country in commemoration of both their victory and the sacrifices made to get there.
South Korea: Memorial Day
On June 6, South Koreans take the day to honor those who died during the Korean War. The largest memorial service is held in the National Cemetery in Seoul, and the flag is flown at half staff. A moment of silence is held when a siren rings throughout the country at 10 a.m.
Contact Miya Singer at [email protected].