Lest We Forget: Canadian History in Review

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row…”

“In Flanders Fields,” the poem written by John McCrea, who was a Lieutenant-Colonel as well as a medical officer during the first world war was inspired by the poppies that grew along the western front, while in combat.

It is the symbol Canadians have embraced to respect our fallen heroes. Remembrance Day ceremonies will take place across the country, though the anchoring ceremony will take place on Parliament Hill to honour those who have fought in the armed forces.

Remembrance Day is “observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War.” We remember those soldiers who have died in the line of duty.

On the eleventh day, of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour, we respectfully remember those men and women who have placed themselves in traumatic and dangerous situations in war-torn countries around the world. These brave soldiers have fought for that which we hold dear, and for the many freedoms, we (at times) take for granted.

Armistice Day was first honored in the year 1919, throughout much of the British Empire on the second Monday in November.

“In 1921, the Canadian Parliament passed an Armistice Day bill to observe ceremonies on the first Monday in the week of 11 November, but this combined the event with the Thanksgiving Day holiday.”

The first world war ran from 1914-1918 where “the Canadians’ first major battle occurred at Ypres, Belgium, on April 22, 1915, where the Germans used poison gas.”

One of the soldiers who’d survived this dreadful and deadly attack spoke about his experience, stating: “The room was filled with dying and badly wounded men; trampled straw and dirty dressings lay about in pools of blood. The air, rank with the fumes of gas, was thick with the dust of flying plaster and broken brick, and stifling with the smoke from the burning thatch.”

“In April 1917, Canadians helped turn the tide of battle when they won a major victory at Vimy Ridge. This triumph came at high cost: more than ten thousand casualties in six days.” Vimy Ridge memorial is located in “Parc Mémorial Canadien, Chemin des Canadiens, RD55, 62580 Vimy, France.”

“Every year, the Royal Canadian Legion organizes the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. Highlights include the veterans themselves on parade, the attendance of the Prime Minister, the Governor General of Canada, and the Silver Cross Mother,” who is honoured for the loss of her child while serving in the military.

As the years pass, there are fewer living war veterans, so it is vital that we continue to honour the heroes (and heroines) by wearing a poppy and respecting the two minutes of silence. “Lest we forget.”



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