Friday, May 24, 2013

YOU HAVE TO BE PRETTY OLD TO REMEMBER EMPIRE DAY MAY 24

Currently working on an historical feature and today May 24 is Empire Day, or it was until a few years ago (mid '50s).  The very idea of a day that would …“remind children that they formed part of the British Empire, and that they might think with others in lands across the sea, what it meant to be sons and daughters of such a glorious Empire.”, and that “The strength of the Empire depended upon them, and they must never forget it.”, had been considered as early as 1897. The image of Queen Victoria, Empress of India, as its paramount ruler would be shared by an Empire spanning almost a quarter of the entire globe.

 

The first celebration of Empire Day took place 24 May 1902. This had been Queen Victoria's birthday.  She had died the year before on  22 January 1901.  Although not officially recognised as an annual event until 1916, many schools across the British Empire were celebrating it before then. One New Zealand school journal from 1910 records: "This is the ‘Union Jack’; and now that Empire Day has come round once more, you will hear its history. It is really a coloured picture from a history-book, telling of things that happened, long before you were born"’.



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