What is Remembrance Day?
For someone who is new to Canada it could be confusing because it only occurs in Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is not about glorifying war, but rather remembering the sacrifices made by so many. I was asked by one of my fellow students why I was wearing a “red flower”. It took me back for a second but then I remembered that I had to explain the significance of the Poppy and what it represented to my cousin from North Carolina. Some look at Remembrance Day as a holiday to sleep in, but we must never forget the terrible price the fallen members of our military had to pay for our freedom. During World War I, Canada had a population of only 7.2 million people and 66,996 people were killed. In World War II, we had a population of only 11.2 million people but we lost 43,600 people. The poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ was written by Dr. John McCrae during WWI and has a line that sums up why we should wear a Poppy on Remembrance Day. It reads “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.”
The two World Wars are decades behind us, the Centennial anniversary of the end of World War I will be in 2018. Time is a terrible thing, it teaches us apathy and allows us to forget history. But if you lived during the wars, it affected every aspect of your life. From the things we take for granted like buying gas, butter or even bacon for breakfast and not having to wait for your draft notice in the mail. Millions of soldiers, sailors and airmen answered the call. We have to realize that the word freedom is a misnomer, because freedom is never free. We have to remember those brave men and women who have fought for our rights and freedoms. The war dead have kept us free from tyranny and have maintained our freedom to vote, to have our own Constitution, legal system and our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
What does this all mean?
Remembrance Day is observed on November 11th in all Commonwealth countries, to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”, in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany. So one way you can show your respect is to attend a ceremony and the best way to find the nearest one to you is to contact your local Royal Canadian Legion. If you cannot attend a ceremony, you should observe Two Minutes of Silence on your own. The Two Minutes of Silence is held each year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and marks the end of the First World War. Two minutes may not be a long time for us but for the fallen it is time that they can never get back.
As a retired solider who has deployed multiple times, fought in Afghanistan and has lost friends in combat, I am truly grateful to live in a country where we have the freedoms we have. Freedoms that we take for granted like the freedom not to fear our government, freedom of speech and having a free press. Most of all, I am truly grateful for my family.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.”
By Darrell Rostek, Public Relations, Marketing and Strategic Communications Management Diploma