TIME World

Memorial Day, Remembrance Sunday and Armed Forces Day: How 9 Other Countries Remember Their Fallen Troops

Fields Of Remembrance Poppies Ahead of Sunday's Service
Crosses with Remembrance Poppies, worn during Remembrance Day in Britain. Cate Gillon—Getty Images

As America observes Memorial Day, here’s how other countries around the world honor their fallen.

Americans remember the men and women of its armed forces who have died in service every year on Memorial Day, always the last Monday in May. Heralding the beginning of summer in the U.S., Memorial Day is an official national holiday that has its roots in the memorials for fallen soldiers in after the American Civil War, still the country’s deadliest conflict.

In other countries around the world, Memorial Day-style observances are rooted in an even deadlier fight — The First World War. World War I, which began a hundred years ago and became one of the deadliest conflicts in history, spawned national memorials throughout the British Commonwealth and elsewhere (in the U.S., the end of the war is commemorated with Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day). In still other countries, a memorial holiday remembers the war dead of more recent conflicts.

Here’s how countries around the world honor their fallen:


The United Kingdom observes Remembrance Sunday with ceremonies across the country on the Sunday nearest to November 11, the day Germany signed the armistice ending World War I hostilities. Today, the day memorializes fallen British soldiers in all conflicts since the Great War. On November 11 at 11 a.m.—the time of the signing of the armistice—the UK holds a two-minute silence. “Remembrance poppies” are worn and displayed as per a tradition inspired by the Canadian poet John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields:”

In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

South Korea

South Koreans observe Memorial Day on June 6, the same month that the Korean War began, to honor servicemen and civilians who have died for their country. The nation holds a one-minute silence at 10 a.m.


Armistice Day in France is solemnly observed on Nov. 11 with ceremonies, special church services and poppy adornments. In recent years, the holiday has come to recognize all of the country’s war dead in addition to the 1.4 million people killed in the First World War.

New Zealand and Australia

Anzac Day on April 25 commemorates New Zealand and Australia’s servicemen and women who have died. The day, which stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps,” falls on the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, the first major military action by both forces in the First World War in a campaign that would fuel the building of a national consciousness in both countries.


Turkey observes Martyrs’ Day on March 18, the anniversary of a major victory against the Allied Powers during the Gallipoli Campaign. The day is used today to commemorate Turks who have died for the country.


Nigeria formerly observed Armed Forces Remembrance Day on Nov. 11 as a member of the commonwealth. But it has since moved the date to Jan. 15, 1970 to commemorate the end of the country’s civil war.


Italy observes National Unity and Armed Forces Day on November 4, the date Austria-Hungary surrendered to the Italians in 1918. The day is accompanied by ceremonies commemorating members of the armed forces killed in action.


Remembrance Day in Canada, a national holiday on Nov. 11, commemorates Canada’s servicemen and women. At 11 a.m., the country holds a two minute silence in memory of those who perished.


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TIME Turkey

3 Arrested for Negligence After Turkey Mine Explosion

Akin Celik
Police and paramilitary-police officers escort Akin Celik, the mining company's operations manager, center right, and two other mining officials en route to prison in the Turkish coal-mining town of Soma on May 18, 2014 Emre Tazegul—AP

They may face three- to 15-year sentences; 19 suspects are still in custody following a mine explosion that killed more than 300 people

Three people have been arrested on negligence charges following a Turkish mining explosion that killed 301 people earlier this week, a prosecutor said during a Sunday press conference.

The three were also charged with causing the death of more than one person, though intent is not implied in the charge. Turkey’s penal code states that such charges can lead to prison sentences of between three and 15 years.

Prosecutor Bekir Sahiner said that one of the people arrested was the operations manager of the company that oversees the mine, the Associated Press reports.

Six of the 25 people initially detained after the explosion have been released, Sahiner said.

The mining company and the Turkish government have both said the mine was properly inspected and that negligence was not to blame. However, public outcry over the disaster has led officials to promise a thorough investigation, as poor safety conditions in Turkey’s mining industry have made accidents a common occurrence.



Pictures of the Week: May 9 – May 16

From the Turkish mining disaster to the conclusion of the world’s largest elections in India, from the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and the opening of the Cannes Film Festival, TIME presents the best photos of the week.

TIME Turkey

Anger Builds as Victims of Turkey’s Worst Mining Disaster Are Buried

People carry the coffin of a miner who died in a fire at a coal mine, draped with a Turkish flag, during his funeral at a cemetery in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa
People carry the coffin of a miner who died in a fire at a coal mine, draped with a Turkish flag, during his funeral at a cemetery in Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa May 15, 2014. Osman Orsal—Reuters

Turks are demanding answers as the death toll from Tuesday’s explosion in a coal mine in the country’s west reaches 284

The first burials of those who perished in Turkey’s worst ever mining disaster began Thursday, as public anger grew over the administration’s reaction to the disaster that saw 284 lives lost with 140 people still missing.

“It’s not an accident, it’s murder,” read a banner waved by trade unionists marching through the capital, Istanbul, according to the Associated Press.

As weary men dug makeshift graves amid the mournful sound of wailing relatives, rescue workers continued to battle methane gas and flames in their efforts to save those still trapped underground.

Turks have been infuriated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s apparent shrugging off of the tragedy. Mining accidents “are in the nature of the business,” he said Thursday, citing comparable disasters from British, American and Chinese history.

Compounding the sense of national revulsion, a photograph of one of Erdogan’s aides viciously kicking a restrained protester circulated on international and domestic media Thursday. Tear gas was fired as crowds demanded justice for the victims.

As more people took to the streets, Erdogan warned “extremists” against taking advantage of the tragedy for their own ends. “Everyone should be assured that this accident will be investigated to the smallest detail,” he added. “We won’t allow any negligence to be ignored.”

According to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency, the Labor Ministry insists that the mine had been inspected twice just two months before Tuesday’s explosion and no safety concerns had been flagged.

There have been more than 3,000 deaths and 100,000 mining injuries in Turkey since 1941, according to the national statistics agency.

TIME Turkey

Anger at Turkish Mine Disaster Rebounds on Erdogan

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits scene of accident following the coal mine fire disaster in Soma district of Manisa, western Turkish province, on May 14, 2014.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits scene of accident following the coal mine fire disaster in Soma district of Manisa, western Turkish province, on May 14, 2014. Ege Gurgun—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After surviving a massive corruption scandal, battles with social-media sites and protests over his authoritarian politics, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's populist image may be further harmed by the deadly coal-mine disaster in Soma

As if Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t have enough to worry about with a massive corruption scandal, running battles with the world’s most popular social-media sites and stubborn protests over his authoritarian politics, Wednesday’s catastrophic mine accident in the city of Soma looks set to trouble his premiership yet further.

Only six weeks after Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party dominated Turkey’s municipal elections, a victory that was widely viewed as a vote of confidence in the Premier, the mine explosion quickly stirred discontent. Protesters congregated at the local party headquarters in the city of 100,000 people, 480 km southwest of Istanbul, some calling the Premier “murderer” and “thief,” according to news reports.

Demonstrators, some wearing miner’s helmets, also gathered outside the Istanbul headquarters of the company that owned the mine; underground, commuters played dead on subway platforms in a show of solidarity with the dead miners. Another group in the capital city of Ankara tried to march on the Energy Ministry before being dispersed by police.

Erdogan reacted to the disaster much as any leader would: he canceled a planned trip to Albania in order to visit the site and ordered three days of mourning. But he was more combative than statesmanlike when confronted with the complaints of grieving families that safety had been shortchanged at the mine. The deaths occurred after an electrical transformer exploded during a shift change, with more than 700 workers in the mine. The death toll stood at 274 on Thursday, with at least 150 others still trapped in smoldering tunnels filled with toxic gases.

“Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time. It’s not like these don’t happen elsewhere in the world,” Erdogan said at a news conference after his site visit, before listing a series of global mining disasters going back to 1862.

The Prime Minister has largely weathered the controversies that have gathered about him over the past year, thanks in part to the economic expansion he has overseen over the decade-plus rule of the AKP, as his party is known in Turkey. But the mine disaster could strike in a visceral way at the core of the Premier’s populist image, as a self-described “black Turk” who stands with the common man against elitists who controlled national politics for most of Turkey’s history.

Erdogan’s close links to big business, in particular the construction industry, was after all at the heart of the massive judicial probe prosecutors pursued until he ordered them reassigned. And after almost a dozen years in power, his party cannot avoid responsibility for the country’s abysmal record on worker safety. The Geneva-based International Labour Organization in 2012 ranked Turkey third worst in the world for worker deaths.

The Soma disaster carries specific risks for the incumbent. Last month, a local lawmaker petitioned Turkey’s parliament to investigate the mine; Ozgur Ozel, a member of the opposition Republican People’s Party, said residents had complained incessantly that the mine was not safe. The effort was thwarted by Erdogan’s party, some members of which publicly mocked the proposal. Erdogan pointed out on Wednesday that the mine had passed inspections in March.

The issue is sure to be revisited now, and for some time to come. Already media outlets critical to Erdogan were linking the Prime Minister to the disaster and alleging the mine operators were given advance notice of inspections. “Massacre in the mine,” read the headline on one column in the English language Today’s Zaman on Wednesday. “Symptom of a one-man regime.”

TIME The Brief

Hundreds of Turkish Miners Trapped Underground

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now—from the editors of TIME

Here are the stories TIME is watching this Wednesday, May 14:

  • 238 Turkish miners are dead and hundreds are still missing after an explosion at a power distribution unit.
  • Magic Johnson responds to Donald Sterling’s remarks, saying Sterling is “living in the Stone Age.”
  • John Conyers, the second longest-serving lawmaker in Congress, doesn’t make a primary ballot after failing to collect enough signatures.
  • Shoppers who footed the bill for Vibram’s toe-shoes could get up to $90 back after a lawsuit alleged the shoes didn’t provide health benefits as the company advertised.

The Brief is published daily on weekdays.

TIME Turkey

Turkey: Images of a Mining Tragedy

Dramatic photographs show the fear and urgency as rescuers frantically scrabble to find survivors of Tuesday's coal mine explosion in Turkey, while stunned miners and distraught relatives look on. The explosion has killed over 200 of the 787 workers inside the mine at the time

TIME Turkey

238 Dead, Hundreds Trapped in Turkish Coal Mine

A man kisses his son who was rescued from the mine, May 13, 2014. Bulent Kilic—AFP/Getty Images

At least 232 people were killed and an estimated 200 others are thought to be trapped after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, south of Istanbul. 787 people were working in the mine when the accident occurred

Updated: May 14, 9:13 a.m. EST

The death toll caused by an explosion at a coal mine in Turkey on Tuesday has risen to at least 238, the country’s prime minister said on Wednesday. An estimated 200 people are believed to be still trapped inside as of early Wednesday.

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said early Wednesday that 787 people were working in the mine when the accident occurred, the Associated Press reports. Yildiz also said that carbon-monoxide poisoning was the cause of most fatalities. A local administrator said the explosion and fire were caused by a power-distribution unit.

“Time is working against us,” Yildiz said, noting that close to 400 people were involved in the recovery efforts, which had rescued 363 of the miners so far.

An official told NBC News that rescue teams were inside the mine, providing oxygen to those still trapped.

The company that owns the mine, located in Soma, approximately 250 km (155 miles) south of Istanbul, confirmed that some of its workers were killed but would not give a specific number. The poor safety conditions of Turkey’s mining industry make accidents common.


TIME Turkey

May Day Demonstrators Clash With Istanbul Police

As demonstrators marked May 1 around the world, protesters in Istanbul tried to defy a government ban on marching in Taksim Square.

May Day demonstrators defied a protest ban and took to the streets around Istanbul’s Taksim Square Thursday, prompting clashes with police sent in preparation for what’s known around the world as a day of protest.

Police used tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators, including a mix of trade unions, opposition activists and far left groups celebrating what has been dubbed International Workers’ Day, Turkish state news reports. Some protesters threw fireworks and stones at police.

Several unions had said earlier that they would ignore Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s warnings not to march on Taksim Square.

“We will be in Taksim despite the irrational and illegal ban. All roads will lead to Taksim on May Day, and our struggle for labour, equality, freedom, justice and peace will continue,” top unions said in a joint statement, Reuters reports.

Roads and streets leading to Taksim Square were closed off Thursday, and authorities deployed nearly 40,000 police in Istanbul ahead of the protests.

The square’s iconic status is linked to its history as a hotspot for protests. A sit-in against urban development plans snowballed into weeks of mass anti-government protests in the area last year. And on May 1, 1977, 36 people were killed after unidentified gunmen fired on a massive May Day demonstration in the square.

May Day demonstrations took place around the world on Thursday, with some leading to clashes with police. Nearly 1,000 workers and opposition supporters in Phnom Penh, Cambodia ignored a protest ban and clashed with security forces.

[Anadolu Agency]

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