November 11, also known as Remembrance Day, is the day we dedicate to honouring those who gave their lives for our country. There are many traditions we, as Canadians, follow all over the country, showing in our own ways the gratitude we feel to all those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom.
Every year, Ottawa has its memorial cenotaph at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, honouring those who have died, leaving behind nothing but a legacy. The Tomb honours those who were never recovered and those without a name or family. Many people are present at the Remembrance Day ceremony, including the veterans of the numerous wars, families of those who fought, representatives of many clubs and organizations, as well as the Prime Minister. Speeches are in abundance, reminding us all of what these men and women gave to our country. There is also a wreath ceremony, where representatives from all over the country lay a wreath at the Tomb as a sign of respect for all the lost souls.
Many other provinces and cities have celebrations of their own with similar traditions. In each school, workplace, building and street, the country is united as one, for one blissful minute at 11:00 a.m. , when the country is silent, giving thanks and prayers. We also all wear a poppy as a sign of respect.
The poppy was brought into use in 1921, after a poem written by Col. John McRae came to light. McRae, a soldier doctor in Flanders, wrote “In Flanders Fields” for a friend who had died in battle. An excerpt of the poem, from which the poppy became the symbol of remembrance, follows.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
The full poem is available on the Royal Canadian Legion website.
Although we take it for granted, freedom was not always such an easy thing to come by. Thousands of lives were lost, millions more shattered, throughout the course of the many wars that gave us what we have today. Let us always remember these gifts, and always show our gratitude and pride in the veterans, soldiers, and their families for the generous sacrifice they made, and continue to make, everyday. On November 11, wear your poppy, take a moment at 11:00 a.m. and remember. “Lest We Forget.”