For November 11, Armistice Day, commemorated in South Africa as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission says the public can this year look to the stars to pay tribute to the Commonwealth soldiers who died in the two world wars.
The commission has created #ShineOn, a digital remembrance event. By clicking here and making use of the commission’s records of some 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead and search facilities you can name a star after one of the fallen.
The commission is then encouraging everyone to take a moment at 7pm UK time on 11 November to step outside their homes, look at the stars and remember the fallen.
Barry Murphy, the commission’s director general, said: “Whilst we can’t come together in person, we can still make sure their names burn bright. Not just for one day, but for all the days (and nights) to come.”
#ShineOn has been created in response to the unique circumstance of this remembrance period. There won’t be mass gatherings at local war memorials around the country and many won’t be at their usual places of work to hold a communal two minutes silence.
South Africans served all over the world in many roles during both World War I and World War II. They fought with the infantry and artillery, in the air and at sea, joined nursing and medical services, served as engineers, in railway and signal companies, and in labour corps. Many died far from their homes.
The commission commemorates more than 11300 members of the South African forces who died during World War I and 12 000 in World War II. It is responsible for looking after and maintaining Commonwealth war memorials and cemeteries at 23 000 locations in more than 150 countries and territories.