Similar to many other countries in the world, Belgium celebrates the end of World War I on 11 November every year. It is also a day to remember the millions of lives lost to years of conflict with several European countries. If in the US, November 11 is called Veterans Day, the Belgians call it Armistice Day. And here’s how Veterans Day celebrate in Belgium.
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How Veterans Day Celebrate In Belgium
Germany declared war on Belgium and France in the early days of August 1914. The German troop’s invasion led to the heroic defense of the Belgians under the leadership of King Albert. However, the Belgian army was unable to stop the onslaught of the Germans. Belgian forces were forced to retreat, and the city of Antwerp fell under German control.
Many desperate battles were fought by the British and Belgian armies to stop the German invasions. However, it was only after the armistice in November 1918 that Belgium was liberated from German oppression. How Veterans Day celebrate in Belgium is similar to other nations in the world.
On Armistice Day, Belgians stopped to remember the dead and wounded at exactly 11 am on 11 November. There is a wide range of majesty, religious ceremonies, and battlefield memorials to be attended in Brussels and other Belgian cities.
Since the armistice was signed, a number of monuments have been erected in cities across Europe to commemorate those who gave their lives during the war and led to the construction of the Tomb of St. Unknown Soldier, to honor the unknown soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict.
In Belgium, this iconic monument sits at the foot of the Colonne du Congrès, which celebrates the birth of the Belgian constitution and is crowned by a statue of Leopold I, the first Belgian monarch.
On Armistice Day, memorial events and parades are often held across Belgium and Europe, with King Philippe of Belgium participating in a memorial service for the Unknown Soldier, in which a wreath of flowers in honor of those who died fallen soldiers are placed at the foot of the mausoleum.
Visiting war memorials and remembering those who died is important to Belgians, but Armistice Day is also an occasion for family activities and some rest and relaxation. World War I was a terrifying experience for Belgium, but it is equally important to be thankful for the peace and prosperity that Belgians now enjoy.
Celebration Of Veterans Day In Other Countries
That’s how Veterans Day celebrate in Belgium, so how about other countries?
Despite its shared history, Armistice Day has evolved in different ways around the world. Depending on which country you are in, it may be called Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, Poppy Day, or it may not even be celebrated on November 11th.
In Canada, Remembrance Day is a public and federal statutory holiday, as well as a statutory holiday in all three territories and in six of the ten provinces. Canadians begin the celebration of Remembrance Day with a special Mass, playing the “The Last Song”, reciting the “Ode of Remembrance” (4th verse), and two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. They then laid wreaths at their local war memorials. At the National War Memorial, representatives of Canada’s armed services attended a special ceremony before the wreath was laid. People often wear red paper poppies on this day.
In the United States, the day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. There will be many church services to pray for the fallen and give thanks, lay wreaths, and parade. Typically, two minutes of silence starting at 11 a.m. are observed. Because it is a holiday, government offices, banks, and schools are closed. Other businesses seize this chance to offer sales events.
In the United Kingdom, the official celebration was moved to the Sunday closest to November 1939, to avoid any disruption to production at the war support factories. Britons usually wear cotton poppies on their lapels for at least a month before Remembrance Day. Across the UK, about two minutes of silence at 11 am was observed.
Australia and New Zealand
Australians and New Zealanders honor the soldiers who lost their lives at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I with Anzac Day. The event is celebrated on April 25 each year. Soldiers and veterans in Australia and New Zealand attend the celebration at dawn. They will then hold a parade of veterans and retired men and women from the military.
The French celebrate Armistice Day with parades in various parts of the country that end at their local war memorials. Among them, the highlight is the parade at the Arc de Triomphe. In France, this day is a day of reflection and they also have a minute of silence at the 11th hour. Because it is a holiday, shops, offices, and banks are closed and most people wear black or dark clothing or during the day.
Norway started celebrating Veterans Day in 2010. They celebrate their Veterans Day on May 8 every year. This day honors World War II veterans, members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces, and those who have served in other international conflicts. The day also marks Victory Day in Europe, the day the Allied Forces officially accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II.
To sum it up…
Above is how Veterans Day celebrate in Belgium and some other countries. This holiday is not only celebrated in the United States. Many countries that fought in WWI and WWII and other major recent conflicts are honored by their homeland in their own unique way. But despite the differences in dates and ways of celebrating, each country expressed their gratitude to the men and women who fought bravely to protect their country.