Remembrance Day is observed in countries all over the world, to pay tribute and remember those who died in military service while also honouring those who served in wars. It is observed across Canada in all six of the 10 provinces and all three territories.
The first Remembrance Day was held in 1919, though originally under the name Armistice Day, to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of the First World War. The name was later changed to Remembrance Day in 1931 to put more emphasis on the soldiers that fought as opposed to the armistice signed.
Modern-day Remembrance Day no longer focuses solely on the First World War but has been expanded to pay respect to all soldiers from any conflicts including: World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the war in Afghanistan, peacekeeping missions and other international military engagements.
The red poppy is used as a symbol of respect to those who have fallen and therefore, many will wear a pin with the flower on in the few weeks leading up to Nov. 11. This flower pin was chosen due to poppies being a common sight on the western front battlefield, where they would grow wildly.
Alongside the red poppy pin, the poem “In Flanders Field” is used as another important symbol of the day. The poem was written by John McCrae, a Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel, who wrote it on the battlefield following the death of a fellow soldier.
It is often taught to children in schools to help them learn about the solemn day. Additionally, other poems are used for ceremonies including: For The Fallen by Laurence Binyon; High Flight by Officer John G Magee Jr.; and Why Wear a Poppy by Don Crawford.
Many Commonwealth countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, pay their respects, just like Canada, on Nov. 11. The United States similarly observes Veterans Day on the same date, however this day pays tribute to military veterans. New Zealand and Australia also have ANZAC Day on April 25. While France and Belgium celebrate Remembrance Day, a blue cornflower called a Bleuet de France is used symbolically rather than the red poppy.
In Canada in particular, a large ceremony is held at the National War Memorial in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, which is televised and broadcasted nationwide. The event is presided over by the Governor-General of Canada and usually with the Prime Minister in attendance.
In Vancouver the largest Remembrance Day ceremony is held at Victory Square, which is only blocks away from the UCW West Pender Campus. The ceremony will include a performance by the Vancouver Bach Youth Choir, a 21-gun salute by the 15th Field Artillery Regiment firing from Portside Park, and a Royal Canadian Air Force flying by.
On Nov. 11 at 11 am, there will be a moment to remember all those who have served in the nation’s defence and those who have lost their lives protecting our country.
Written by Rafael Ramirez