There’s been a lot of controversy lately over Christmas decorations coming out right after the Halloween decorations have come down. I don’t really have an opinion on it the because if you remember what Remembrance Day is all about, it doesn’t matter anyway. I don’t take down my fall decorations and put up my Christmas decorations based on what the big box stores are doing, I do it based on my schedule and what I feel is important.
That also means I don’t allow what the commercial market is doing to overshadow one of the most important days of the year for all Canadians; Remembrance Day. This day means so much to so many of us because without what our ancestors did, we may not have all the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.
Remembrance Day signifies the initial agreement to the ending of the first world war on November 11, 1918. It was during the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that the Germans and the Triple Entente (the Russian Empire, the French Republic and the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) signed the armistice to end WWI which began July 28, 1914.
People wear red poppies in remembrance because during WWI they grew across some of the most dreadful battlefields in Flanders, Belgium and their bright red colour became a symbol for the bloodshed of the war. On May 3, 1915, a Canadian physician active in the war, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, wrote the poem In Flanders Fields after presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier.
In Flanders Fields
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies grow
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.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
to you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.
As a tradition, the poem In Flanders Fields is recited during Canadian Remembrance Day ceremonies around the country and in Ottawa it is sung by choir after the Royal Canadian Air Force completes a 21-gun salute.
In 2000, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was erected at the war memorial in Ottawa and at the end of the official ceremony for the general public, people remove their poppies and place them on the tomb as a sign of respect and gratitude. Veterans Affairs Canada recognizes the significance of this date as “remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace”.
The majority of the younger generations will never know or understand what times of war were like. Try to imagine sending your husband, brothers, fathers, or sons to a land divided, handing them weaponry they’ve never fired before, corresponding via letter mail, waking up each day not knowing if they’re still alive. Left behind, your wives, mothers, sisters homes are no longer their jobs, they’re sent to work in factories with all the other bomb girls to assemble guns and ammunition in less than desirable working conditions where one slip could blow the factory sky-high. In the countries of war, your backfields become battlefields and your lives are turned upside down. No where to call home, no one to enjoy it with. Makes no cell phone reception seem incredibly minuscule doesn’t it?
To learn and know this history and pay respect to the many people that fought for our freedoms and lost their lives is something I am happy to do each and every year and I will teach the daughters about it as well. Don’t forget about November 11, the war veterans that risked and gave their lives so their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren could live without the threat of war deserve our respect and recognition.
If you see a member of our armed forces or a veteran retired from the line of duty, please thank them and on November 11, at 11 am please observe 2 minutes of silence for all the fallen that never made it home to their families. In remembrance, Kim.