Belize Observes Remembrance Day, Honoring Military Veterans
Over the weekend, Belize observed Remembrance Day, a day that pays tribute to military veterans who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars. Countries all over the world mark the celebration on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, to mark the signing of the armistice that took effect in 1918, ending World War One. In Belize Remembrance Day was celebrated on Sunday, November 12, keeping with the local tradition of marking the day on the Sunday that falls closest to November 11. The official parade and ceremonial laying of the wreaths at the Fort George Memorial Park was organized by the Belize Ex-Serve Men’s League, with support from the Belize Defense Force. Valerie Richardson, Secretary General of the Ex-Service Men’s League, explained that the event is marked every year to honor the sacrifice of those Belizeans who were drafted into the British Army under various capacities. She also explained the significance of the poppy, which is normally sold at this time of year, and how it serves to honor both the living and the dead.
Valerie Richardson, Secretary General, Belize Ex-Service Men’s League: “On record we have over a thousand Belizeans who went abroad of different ages and then they did you have some who went as ax men, locksmiths, woodcutters, some dealt with weapons then you also have the Red Cross you had the British Honduras Red Cross Society prior to independence who also went and a couple from the Black Cross Nurses who also went to war. Representatives from these departments always lay a wreathe in honor of the veterans. You have some veterans who also died during the war and that’s why the Memorial Park was given that name because you have a few World War veterans that were buried in the Memorial Park. The Poppies are a symbol of those who died during the war, the blood that was shed during both wars. The red symbolizes the blood and the black is for grief. The objective of the Poppy was to be a visible sign of remembrance, number to two raise money for the needy veterans and three to provide employment to disabled veterans. So the poppy aside from it being a symbol of those who served or passed away during the war it also has significant meaning for those who are still alive.”
Commander of the Belize Defense Force, Brigadier General Azariel Loria, says that while the day seeks to honor veterans, it is important for Belizean youths to know the history as it provides a greater appreciation for their national identity.
Brigadier General Azariel Loria, Commander, Belize Defence Force: “We congregate here at the Memorial Park to remember our soldiers that served in the British Army during the first and second World Wars. Our fallen soldiers. There is a tradition and it started in the European countries when the armistice was signed during World War I that we will remember all the guys that participated and paid the ultimate price while defending our nations especially in Europe at the time the wars were of that magnitude that the whole world was embroiled in hostilities that’s the reason why we do this here. And at the same time we have the ex services league and the Belize Defence Force the coordinate the event. It’s not by us but it’s a partnership with the ex services league that is Mr.Adolphus we come here he does the program along with us we just support him we’re in support as always and we continue to remember our fallen brothers. We have members of the band from the British Army Training Support Unit in Belize so I think that you listened to an improved band and we always invite those that participated during or have stakes as part of the parade.”
An estimated nine million soldiers died in World War One, with another 23 million wounded. Another 15 million soldiers died in World War Two, with over 38 million civilian casualties.