Every year on 11 November we mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
The first Armistice Day was held at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a “Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic” during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day events were subsequently held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace on the morning of 11 November 1919. This would set the trend for a day of Remembrance for decades to come.
In 1919, South African Sir Percy Fitzpatrick proposed a two-minute silence to Lord Milner. This had been a daily practice in Cape Town from April 1918 onward, since being proposed by Sir Harry Hands, and within weeks it had spread through the British Commonwealth after a Reuters correspondent cabled a description of this daily ritual to London. People observe a one or more commonly a two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. local time. It is a sign of respect for, in the first minute, the roughly 20 million people who died in the war, and in the second minute dedicated to the living left behind, generally understood to be wives, children and families left behind but deeply affected by the conflict.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
For the fallen – Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914.