Although Poppy Day occurs annually, the dramatic “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper brought 888,246 ceramic poppies to the Tower of London in 2014 to mark one century since the Brits joined the First World War. Each crimson flower represented a “British military fatality during [World War I]” because fields of poppies bloomed “around the bodies of the fallen soldiers” (Tower of London, BBC). The poppy came to symbolize the sacrifice of the soldiers, which is why supporters of war veterans wear poppy pins on their lapels.
I visited the Tower of London installation last autumn, and I was impressed that the majority of the estimated 5 million visitors were respectful, reflective and solemn. A few tourists insisted on having their picture taken with the display, but the atmosphere was pensive, particularly as names of fallen soldiers were called out in the Roll of Honour. The Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red was a very touching tribute to war veterans.