Remembrance Day commemorates the end of World War I in 1918, marking the armistice that took effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At that moment, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous and brutal warfare.
On what was initially called Armistice Day –which has now become Remembrance Day – solemn ceremonies were held around the world honouring all those who served and all those who fell during what was then known as the Great War or the “war to end all wars.”
Of course, that was not to be, and the aftermath of the World War I directly laid the foundation for the even more devastating World War II.
Since the beginning of World War I, more than 2.3 million Canadian men and women have served during times of war, conflict, and peace and more than 118,000 have made the ultimate sacrifice.
Of course, the poppy has become the symbol of that service and sacrifice. It represents the blood-red poppies that grew on the battlefields and over the graves of soldiers. The sight was captured in In Flanders Fields by Canadian physician and poet Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1915.
In the name of every soldier known and unknown, we have the privilege – and the responsibility – to mark Remembrance Day. There are a number of acts of remembrance we can take part in to pay tribute to those who have defended our values and freedoms over many decades.
We can wear a poppy (and support veterans at the same time), we can observe two minutes of silence on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., we can attend any number of local ceremonies, we can watch the moving ceremony held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, and we can donate to veterans programs through the Royal Canadian Legion.
On this day, together we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who served and, those who serve today, for Canada. For more than 100 years, these heroic people have truly demonstrated that together, we are stronger.