Today, November 11 marks Armistice Day here in the UK and Veterans Day in the US. Both holidays, if you will, honour those who have lost their lives in the many battles fought over the years and celebrate the retired and present service men and women who represent both countries.
Here in London, thousands gather at the Tower of London to admire the sea of poppies on exhibition in the moat. Constructed to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the installation began on 5 August and will be finalise today with the last ceramic poppy planted at 10.52, totalling 888, 246 poppies altogether.
Though the extraordinary exhibition, created by Paul Cummings and staged by Tom Piper, will be dismantled starting tomorrow, more than 4 million visitors from around the world are projected to have seen it when it is all said and done. Fortunately, Paul and I are amongst them.
Last Friday, after seeing Speed the Plow with Lindsay Lohan, (alright if you ask me but not great) we caught a taxi to the Tower and joined hundreds of other late night viewers, to enjoy the exhibition under floodlights.
So popular during its final weeks, the Mayor lobbied to extend it to no avail, but instead the organisers agreed to keep it illuminated at night. Though I had suggested we go early Saturday morning, Paul thought it would be wise to make the trek at night.
It was well worth it—the poppy exhibition, that is. For Londoners who haven’t seen it and are willing to brave the crowds, I can highly recommend. As for the play, I wouldn’t bother. But the extraordinary poppy display is hauntingly moving, even if under giant spotlights.
In the meantime, let us celebrate and honour our men and women of service on both sides of the pond, on this special day, and always.