Veterans' Day in the UAE

I retired from the South Carolina Army National Guard as a technician and a soldier after 28 years in the Army, Army Reserves and the Guard. I had served in Korea, Kuwait and Iraq and retired as Sgt. 1st Class. I then began work as an aviation contractor working first in Germany, Spain and Belgium, then back in the States. I now live and work in the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE was until 1971 a British Protectorate. The expatriate community is very Anglo-centric, and one of the major events is Remembrance Day, or Veterans’ Day in North America.

I have had the distinct honor on two occasions to have assisted at St. Andrew's Church, the Anglican sanctuary in Abu Dhabi, during memorial services for Remembrance Day. These have been attended by military attaches from the US, the UK, France, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and others, as well as the US and UK ambassadors and members of UAE royal families.

Other participants are Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Generally, prelates of the major faiths in Abu Dhabi assist in the service. These include the Muslim, Anglican, Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox and other religious leaders.

I am curious almost to the point of annoyance, and I find the different uniforms fascinating. During the moments prior to a Remembrance Day Service a short, balding, somewhat chubby officer stepped up to receive an order of service from me.
I excused myself and then inquired, “What is your service?”

He smiled and replied, “Can’t you tell? Tall. Blonde hair, blue yes. Aryan. I’m German, of course!” We both laughed and he was escorted inside by a formal military escort.

Through it all, poppies are prominent at the service. Every year the Royal British Legion have artificial poppies available for a donation at a table outside the church's entrance. And it is quite a sight to see everyone wearing poppies.

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