Throughout our academic careers each school has a different way of honouring Remembrance Day. However, why is it so important that each Canadian citizen takes two minutes out of their day for the traditional minute of silence?
The history of Remembrance Day
It’s important to understand the history of why Remembrance Day started and how it became a national holiday. Originally called Armistice day, the Canadian government observed this day for honouring the veterans who served in World War I. It was made official in 1921, and shared a date with Thanksgiving, each year on November 11th. For the first couple years it was only truly celebrated by veterans and their families, through small ceremonies in church and local memorials. Eventually, these people pushed for a greater recognition of Remembrance Day and asked for it to become a separate holiday in order to truly honour the veterans of war. The federal government moved the date of thanksgiving in order to declare Remembrance Day an official holiday to take place every year on November 11th.
Source: Milos Tonchevski
The symbol of the Poppy
The poppy is the well-known symbol of Remembrance Day, with people all over the country wearing the signature red poppy pin on their coats during November. It became symbolic of war after poet and soldier John McCraw wrote the famous poem “In Flanders field”, which is read at every memorial service on Remembrance Day. He witnessed rows of poppies in an otherwise barren battlefield, it being the only plant that could grow in these conditions. It soon became the symbol of honour and sacrifice for the soldiers of War World I and future conflicts. All the money that is from the purchase of poppy pins is distributed among different programs to help veterans and their families, which includes housing, grants for food, clothing and other necessities, educational bursaries for their families and other needs.
Why is it important we celebrate Remembrance Day?
Because of the Canadian veterans, Canada has remained a free country for many years. For most citizens, the horrors of war have never been experienced by them or their family members. However, for this privilege, it took many sacrifices from Canadian veterans. Around 61,000 Canadian soldiers died in the First World War, which inspired the holiday. Since that time, Canada has been involved in around a dozen wars, with Canadian soldiers making new sacrifices each time, in terms of health, family and much more. This holiday is to honour every person who gave their life to not only fight for the freedom of Canada, but to help fight for other country’s freedom and rights.
Where do these celebrations take place?
Each city will have a local celebration, but the national memorial ceremony is held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario on November 11th. This is a huge event that attracts thousands of citizens, including diplomates, heads of veteran organizations as well as the Canadian prime minister.
Celebrations in Kingston
The local Remembrance ceremony takes place at the Cross of Sacrifice Cenotaph, a war memorial site at the intersection of King and George Street. A ceremony takes place in the morning that includes the laying of wreaths in memory of the fallen, a bilingual civil service and a parade to honour the sacrifice of the Canadian veterans.
Understanding the history and the sacrifice that Canadian soldiers have made is important in recognizing them this Remembrance Day. Be sure to take two minutes of silence to honour the fallen soldiers and to recognize the sacrifice they made to ensure our freedom.