At the first July 1st Ceremony in 1978 there were two of us, the following year there were four, and by 2014 it had grown to over 4,000 people. Yet both our remembrance ceremonies (July 1st and November 11th) have always had the same ethical code – that the only VIPs were the veterans who regularly attended in the early years.
Today at Lochnagar everyone is included and everyone takes part. In July there are approximately 75 wreaths and at the end of the hour-long, bi-lingual Ceremony everyone is offered a handful of poppy and cornflower petals to scatter where they wish. Then the congregation links hands around the rim while the Last Post is played from within the Crater. The November Ceremony is smaller and more informal (although 2018 being a centenary year something a little more special is planned).
These Ceremonies (especially July 1st) take many weeks of planning and preparation with frantic days beforehand by our experienced team of volunteers preparing the wreath-laying area and effective speaker system to reach all four corners of the site. On the day itself many of us are at the Crater by 3am preparing for the arrival of the first visitors by dawn.
On both July 1st and November 11th, invariably with many nations represented, we consider it vital that all are warmly welcomed, included and cared for, so all can share in this remarkable spirit of international remembrance, fellowship and reconciliation.