Remembrance Day

Next Saturday, 11 November 2023

Remembrance Day is a day used to honor the sacrifices made by the military servicemen and women in World War I, and II and the conflicts after that. Commonwealth member states (around 56 countries, most of which were under the British rule previously) such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, observe it at the 11th hour on 11th November every year.

On this day, a two-minute silence is observed as a mark of respect for all the soldiers lost in the line of duty.

Remembrance Day tribute with poppy flowers
Remembrance Day tribute with poppy flowers

Remembrance Day is also known as Poppy day in Canada because people pay tribute to the dead by wearing a 'remembrance poppy', an artificial flower with four petals and a black center.

The red poppy symbolizes the bloodshed of armed forces on the Western front after World War I. In honor of the lives lost, millions of people pin a red poppy on their coats, close to their heart.

History

At the eleventh hour of 11th November 1918, World War I stopped and peace was finally restored. An armistice or treaty was signed between the two forces- Germany and the Entente (including the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic and the UK and Ireland).

Named after this armistice signed in 1918, this day was originally called 'Armistice Day.

In 1919, Isaac Ellis Pedlow (a Canadian politician) proposed that Armistice Day should be observed on the second Monday of November every year. He also proposed the idea of celebrating Thanksgiving Day on the same day to mark their victory.

After much discussion and delay, Arthur Meighen PC QC, the ninth Canadian Prime Minister, made Armistice Day an official holiday in 1921. Thus, thanksgiving day also came to be celebrated on the same day.

Many veterans and citizens complained that the celebration of Thanksgiving day on the same day as Armistice Day was disrespectful to the fallen soldiers. They wanted to observe it as a separate and peaceful day. Finally, in 1931, the Canadian Government separated the two and 'Remembrance Day' was observed on 11th November.

It was Charles Dickie , a Conservative member of the Parliament, who proposed that the name of this day be changed to Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day Observation

In Canada, Remembrance Day is observed as a public holiday. A National Ceremony is held and attended by State officials, veterans, and citizens every year at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. It is recorded and broadcasted all over the country. However, three provinces- Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec do not observe a public holiday.

Remembrance Day in Ottawa, Canada
Remembrance Day in Ottawa, Canada

People from all over the country unite to honor the fallen soldiers and people who died for them. It is also a time to reflect on the horrors of war and realize the importance of peace. Besides observing a two-minute silence, Last Post (a short fanfare associated with the military ceremonies) is played and Flanders Field ( a poem on war written by Canadian poet Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae ) is recited.

More than 2,300,000 Canadians have served throughout the country's history, and more than 119,000 people made sacrifices during the war.

Remembrance Day