Saturday November 11th, 2017
By Helen Gardner
In Flanders field the poppies grow,
For the reason we all should know.
Standing proud and tall as can be,
Its glory and beauty we all can see.
Remembering the men who saved us all,
Their bravery and honour we all may recall.
A symbol of courage we shall never forget,
For the men who died in the war they met.
They gave up their lives to save the rest,
Although they died, they did their best.
To the bravest of all man and your respected ranks,
We look up to you always and give you thanks.
The Ode of Remembrance
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
In the First World War 61,000 Canadians died, in the Second World War 42,000 Canadians died. Many of these soldiers were dual citizens serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Remembrance Day is commemorated on the 11 November each year, and marks the end of World War I in 1918.
The intention of the day is to remember the fallen on both sides in the ‘Great war’.
On the face of it, that all appears quite straightforward, yet, as with many holidays if we look a little deeper, we soon see things aren’t quite as simple they seem.
11 November has an older tradition that is, by coincidence, associated with war and peace. In the Christian calendar it was known as ‘Martinmas’ or St. Martin’s day.
Martin was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity, and because of his new found religion, refused to fight under a pagan flag. After leaving the army, Martin (ironically named after Mars, the Roman god of war) became a monk, rising up through the orders to eventually become a bishop in Gaul (modern day France).
In the context of the modern day holiday, 11 November marks the signing of the armistice (peace agreement) between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France.
The armistice took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning – the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
However, while this date is used to reflect the end of the whole war, it technically relates to the cease fire on the Western Front; fighting continued after 11 November in parts of the Ottoman Empire.
Did you know?
World War I didn’t legally end until Allied Forces left Constantinople (now Istanbul) on 23 August 1923.
After the ‘end’ of the war in 1918, it didn’t take long before the signing of the armistice was adopted as a suitable time and date for countries involved in the war to mark the sacrifice of their soldiers, with official remembrance services taking place in the UK and USA in 1919.
Remembrance Day around the world
Despite the common history, Remembrance Day has evolved in different ways around the world. Depending on where you are in the world, it can be known as Armistice Day, Veterans’ Day, Remembrance Day, Poppy Day and may not even be celebrated on 11 November.
In Canada, Remembrance Day is a public holiday and federal statutory holiday, as well as a statutory holiday in all three territories and in six of the ten provinces.
From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which 11 November fell and Thanksgiving was held on the same day. In 1931 an act was adopted that said the day should be called Remembrance Day and be observed on 11 November.
In the Cayman islands, Remembrance Day is a public holiday on the second Monday in November.
In the United States, the day was renamed to Veteran’s day in 1954, after a campaign by a member of the public to extend the commemorations to include the fallen of World War II and other conflicts.
In the UK, the official commemoration was moved to the Sunday closest to 11 November in 1939, to avoid any disruption to production in factories supporting the war effort. This Sunday observance has remained since, though the 11th may also be marked with a moment of silence at 11am.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia and New Zealand, the events and losses at Gallipoli have taken a deeper hold on the psyche, and the ANZAC day celebrations are the main occasion for people to remember the fallen of conflicts.
Belgium and France
The day is marked by an official holiday in both France and Belgium. While the end of the war may be seen as a time for happiness and celebration; the unprecedented loss of life in the war means that the day is a somber day of reflection. In France, the day is marked by parades across the country, such as the grand parade at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.