Canadians recognize Remembrance Day on the 11th day of the 11th month.
At the 11th hour, we pause to remember the brave soldiers who fought for our country. The date and time mark the moment that the First World War ended. In that war alone, more than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served — over 66,000 gave their lives and more than 172,000 were wounded.
Two minutes of silence is held at 11 am. There are ceremonies at war memorials, cenotaphs and churches across Canada, as well as abroad. This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War.
During the last three months of the war, a series of victories by the Canadian Corps solidified their reputation as elite shock troops on the Western Front. The Canadian Corps played such a key role that this period became known as Canada’s Hundred Days. No longer viewed as just a colony of England, Canada had truly achieved nation status.
You’ll usually see a lot of people wearing poppies for about two weeks leading up to Remembrance Day. Poppies are worn as a symbol to remember those have given their lives for their country in war.
The red poppy was one of the only plants to grow on otherwise barren battlefields. Their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war. It quickly became an enduring symbol of remembrance in Canada, Great Britain, the nations of the Commonwealth, and in the United States for those who served or fell in service of their country.
Another significant part of Remembrance Day is the poem In Flanders Fields, written by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He felt compelled to write the poem after attending the funeral of his friend and fellow soldier, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. It gained popularity immediately after being published and quickly became one of the most prominent and well-known literary works about the war.
Locally, Remembrance Day is commemorated throughout the Lower Mainland with more than 30 different events. One of the largest ceremonies is held in downtown Vancouver at Victory Square, which is only about six blocks from the UCW Campus.
The Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square begins with choir performances starting at 10 am. At 10:10 am, veterans, military marching units, and bands will be led to Victory Square for the cenotaph ceremony starting at 10:30 am. Shortly afterward, there will be a pipe and drum performance.
At 11 am, the Last Post will be sounded followed by two minutes of silence, during which a 21-gun salute will be heard originating from Portside Park. Lament and Rouse will follow. The Royal Canadian Air Force will conduct a fly-past moments later, weather permitting.
In Flanders Fields will then be sung and wreaths placed at the Cenotaph. Everyone is welcome to attend this solemn ceremony.
Written by Rheanna Labossiere