Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. World War I was a massive conflict played out over the whole globe, but particularly in Europe, where troops from Canada supported the Allied forces.
World War I resulted in the loss of huge numbers of lives amongst both civilians and military personnel. Many more people were badly injured. The war left great emotional scars in the servicemen, who had experienced it, and in the communities, whose sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and even grandfathers had died. Remembrance Day commemorates those who died in armed conflicts, particularly in and since World War I.
In Canada, November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day.
Remembrance Day is symbolized by the artificial poppies that people wear and place at war memorials. The poppies may be worn or placed singly or as wreaths. The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance comes from a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military. The poem is called “In Flanders Fields” and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.
Poppies grow well in soil that has been disturbed. They also grew in large numbers on battle fields. The red color of their petals reminded people of the blood lost by victims of and casualties in the conflict.
Other symbols of Remembrance Day are the war memorials, which are often near the geographical center of communities. These commemorate members of the community, who have died in military action. A particularly well-known memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario. The military parades held on November 11 are also symbolic of Remembrance Day.
If you would like to gain more insight into what Remembrance Day in Canada means, check out Veteran Affairs Canada which will provide you with information on why we should remember, who and what we should remember, and how we should remember.
Although Remembrance Day in Canada concentrates on honouring those who fought in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War, we should also take the time to pay our respects to the Canadians who are currently in Afghanistan and those who have lost their lives in other wars.