Since 1931, most Commonwealth nations have observed a Remembrance Day ceremony on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to honour and respect those who have fallen in service of their country and those who still serve. Ceremonies and moments of silence will take place across the country in schools, workplaces, churches, memorials, and community centres. The Royal Canadian Legion hosts ceremonies across the country.
Remembering the Battles
2017 marked the 150th anniversary of Canada since confederation. However, Canada also celebrated another anniversary in 2017: that of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. On April 9th to 12th 1917, all four Canadian divisions worked together to successfully capture Vimy Ridge from German forces. Canadians succeeded where others had failed, and the battle became a symbol of Canadian unity, sacrifice, and triumph. In this battle, over 10,000 Canadians gave their life for the greater victory.
A few months later, Canadians were victorious in the Battle of Passchendaele – and now November 10th 2017 marks this 100th anniversary where nearly 16,000 were killed. The Battle of Passchendaele symbolises the brutality of the trenches in World War One: it was wet, muddy, bloody, cold, and callous.
In addition, August 19th of this year marked the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid in the Second World War. Five thousand brave Canadians stormed the French coastal town of Dieppe along with a thousand British soldiers. The Dieppe Raid was a catastrophic loss; less than half the troops were able to successfully retreat – leaving the others dead, or prisoners of war. However, the failure of Dieppe prepared the Allies for their later success in Normandy.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields is arguably the most popular piece of war poetry. It was written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae on May 3rd 1915 after his friend died during World War One. Since then, it has frequently been part of Remembrance Day ceremonies.
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.
Lest We Forget
Everyone should take the time to honour the veterans and soldiers – from Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Dieppe, and all other battles before and since – on every day, especially November 11th. Lest we forget.
Written by Megan Cary.
How are you spending Remembrance Day 2017? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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