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from the Telegraph 12 November 2001

Remembering past and present conflicts

By Thomas Harding

THE Queen laid a wreath of 90 poppies at the Cenotaph yesterday as her mother, who stood throughout the Remembrance Sunday ceremony, looked down from a balcony at the Foreign Office.

The ceremony was made all the more poignant by British and American troops being engaged in conflict in Afghanistan.

For the first time an American ambassador was invited to the ceremony in Whitehall, and the New York fire chief joined the march past, exactly two months to the day when 5,000 civilians died in the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Two minutes before 11am, the serving soldiers, sailors and airman representing the Armed Forces came smartly to attention. A moment later the Queen led senior members of the Royal Family out of the Foreign Office to stand in front of the memorial to The Glorious Dead.

It was the first time since 1990 that Remembrance Sunday had coincided with the anniversary of Armistice Day, when the guns fell silent at 11 o'clock on the morning of November 11, 1918.

For two minutes, royalty, politicians, 12,000 veterans and a similar number of spectators stood in silence. Then, as a gun of the Royal Horse artillery was fired, the Band of the Royal Marines and RAF trumpeters sounded Last Post.

The Queen then laid her wreath and was followed by Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal and the Duke of Kent.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, whose brother Fergus was killed at Loos in 1915 while serving with the Black Watch in the First World War, was joined on the Foreign Office balcony by the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Cdre Tim Laurence and Peter Phillips.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was the first politician to lay a wreath and was followed by the Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, the only politician wearing medals.

He received the General Service Medal, with a Northern Ireland clasp, the Rhodesia Medal and the Medal for Service in Rhodesia during his commission in the Scots Guards from 1975 to 1981.

As the Massed Bands of the Guards Division played a medley of war-time favourites, ex-Servicemen and women, together with civilians, marched past the Cenotaph to pay tribute to fallen comrades.

At the head of the march past were 1,200 men from the Parachute Regimental Association. They were joined by a lone US Marine and Second World War veterans from the US 82nd Airborne Division.

Joe Callan, the New York Fire Chief, marched alongside members of the Firefighters' Memorial Trust.

Fire Chief Callan, 59, who escaped after being trapped in New York's twin towers, said afterwards: "It's a very poignant ceremony because of what happened on September 11. I've never felt such warmth and energy.

"It's just an honour to be allowed to march with veterans of your country - you all have so much pride."

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