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Why do we celebrate Remembrance Day?

Remembrance DayThe meaning of Remembrance Day

 

Remembrance Day is a day to remember those who served and fought in the First World War. It is observed to recall the end of hostilities of World War I in 1918.  At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the armistice that stopped the fighting was signed by representatives of Germany and the Allies.

Poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I; their brilliant red colour became a symbol for blood spilled in the war. The red poppy became the symbol of Remembrance Day. This is described in the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

“After reading the poem, Moina Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today.” *

On November 11th, cities across Canada will honour and remember the courage, service and sacrifice of those men and women who served in the war – as well as those who continue to strive for peace. Usually the events are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. You can find a list of locations here.

Lest we forget.

 

In Flanders Fields

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

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

 

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.

 

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

*Summary from ‘The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and her tribute to veterans’ by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh. Available at your Vancouver City Library.