A million tears: first global remembrance day for animals who served in war

  • A song titled A Million Tears has been released to launch the first International War Animal Remembrance Day on 24 February.

    The first “purple poppy anthem”, recorded by soprano Christina Johnston to “honour the service and sacrifice of millions of animals over hundreds of years of conflict”, has gone to number one in the iTunes classical chart.

    A spokesman for the singer said the song and accompanying video acknowledge the contribution horses, mules, donkeys, dogs and other animals have made to human wars, adding: “It’s the first time they have been recognised in this way. Proceeds from all sales will be donated to War Horse Memorial to support the work of horse sanctuaries and military charities.”

    The song, co-written by Warwick, Young and Maclean, covers the way humans have taken animals to work alongside soldiers in battle, and “how the purple poppy has become a powerful and poignant symbol of their endurance and loss”.

    The War Horse Memorial is dedicated to the millions of UK, Commonwealth and Allied horses, mules and donkeys killed during the First World War. The bronze statue of a horse with its head bowed, barbed wire around its hooves, stands in Ascot, and has “come to symbolise all animals who have given service and sacrifice in war and has led to the reintroduction of the purple poppy emblem to raise money for animal sanctuaries and military charities”.

    Memorial co-founder Alan Carr said: “This wonderful anthem, sung to perfection by Christina Johnston, one of our global ambassadors, pays homage to animals who, in two world wars and subsequent conflicts, served the ambitions of man.

    “Eight million horses and countless mules and donkeys died in the First World War alone. They were used to transport ammunition and supplies to the front, dogs were used to carry messages in the trenches and cats to kill the rats that thrived in such appalling conditions. On Remembrance Sunday we rightly remember the men and women who have fought and died for us. It’s only right that on one day of the year the world comes together to remember animal service and sacrifice too.”

    Ms Johnston said it was an honour to represent the War Horse Memorial and raise money for charities to help animals and war veterans.

    She said : “I have a tremendous love of all animals, especially horses, and when I was asked to be ambassador of this wonderful organisation it was such a compliment. And then to be asked to be the voice too was a double treat. To have a day marked especially to remember animals in this way, and how they served us is, I think, fitting and apt.”

    Nigel Allsopp, who founded and is president of the Australian War Animal Memorial Organization said an international day to remember animals who have served in war is long overdue.

    “In 2019 it was announced in our federal parliament that 24 February would be Australia’s official war animal day. We are delighted that other countries are now adopting this day too – and to launch with such a wonderfully powerful song makes the day even more important.”

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