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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 05:44 GMT 06:44 UK


Two-minute silence urged for millennium

Veterans gather at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday

The Royal British Legion is launching a campaign to turn the two-minute silence on Remembrance Day into a global event for the millennium.

It is inviting Commonwealth countries to take part in a two-minute silence on 11 November this year and hopes other countries will follow suit in the year 2000.

The invitation is going out on a special Website - - and the legion hopes it will encourage organisations around the world and broadcasters to take part.

'Supreme sacrifice'

Since 1995 the UK's public observance of the two-minute silence, in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in war, has been revived.

World War I officially ended at 11am on 11 November 1918. The first two-minute silence was held the following year when King George V agreed it would be a fitting decision to honour all those who had made the "supreme sacrifice" during the war.

After World War II the date was moved in the UK to the Sunday nearest to the 11 November. A special ceremony has been held every year at the Cenotaph in London - but the original date has continued to be honoured.

The two-minute silence is now marked by many organisations in the UK, including broadcasters, rail operators, airlines and even construction companies and football clubs.

Wave of silences

The Royal British Legion says 72% of the UK population observed the silence last year.

It now hopes to extend the act of remembrance around the world as a poignant way of closing the old millennium and starting the next.

The legion's Website invites people in the Commonwealth to create a wave of silences around the globe, time zone, by time zone.

It says it expects support from many countries - even those with remembrance days of their own.

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