“On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”.
Called ‘Armistice’ Day from 1921 to 1930, the first ‘Remembrance’ Day was observed November 11, 1931. After a bill was introduced to Parliament to have Remembrance Day ONLY on the 11th (rather than the Monday of the week of the 11th of November) and passed, the name was changed from Armistice to Remembrance). Since the end of the World War I, Remembrance day has been observed to honour our men and women who died in the line of duty during the war, and those who continue to fight for our freedoms during times of war, times of conflict and times of peace.
Mistakingly thought to only be a Canadian (or British Commomwealth) holiday, the United States of America also honours Armistice Day, which they began to call ‘Veteran’s Day’ in 1954. Other nations observe a solemn day of honour, but on different dates (New Zealand observes on April 25).
“Although our days may be different, our honour and gratitude is the same.”
In Canada, a national ceremony is held every year at our National War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. The ceremony is attended by our Prime Minister, government officials, police officials, cadets, colour guard, veterans, veteran representatives, diplomatic officials, dignitaries, the general public and is presided over by our Governor General. Along with the nation’s ceremony at the capital, there are services, parades and remembrance events throughout all cities. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians pause for a moment of silence to honour our fallen and to honour those still fighting.
History of the Poppy .. a symbol of Remembrance Day. Replica poppies are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion, and provide assistance our veterans. Worn on the left side, the poppy pin blooms in November across lapels and collars everywhere. The poppy was first introduced to Canada and the Commonwealth by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae (a Canadian Medical Officer) during the First World War. Lieutenant McCrae penned the Poem “In Flanders Fields” on a scrap of paper in May, 1915 on the day following the death of a fellow soldier. Little did he know then that those 13 lines would become enshrined in the hearts and minds of all who would wear them. McCrae’s poem was published in Punch Magazine in December of that same year, and the poem later served as inspiration three years later for Moina Michael, an American teacher. Moina Michael made a pledge to always wear a Poppy as a sign of Remembrance.
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.
The poppy is a symbol of sacrifice and it stands for something, something bigger than us. One should never be punished for upholding the honour its’ colour symbolizes.