Why Do We Celebrate Remembrance Day?

Posted on: November 10, 2019

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We celebrate Remembrance Day in Toronto to remember and pay respect to our heroes who have lost their lives in service to our country since World War I. In giving their lives to serve the country they made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms and rights that we enjoy today.  These heroes have served, and some of them continue to serve our country in the Canadian Armed Forces, in the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, Peacekeeping and Afghanistan.

I don’t really have a personal connection to wars or veterans or even soldiers in the present day. But I know the history. I’ve come across powerful true stories of Canadian veterans and soldiers who have served and have been killed since then in the wars and in peacekeeping missions that go on to this day.

And although I don’t always get to join the large crowds that gather around cenotaphs across the country every Nov. 11, I still care to remember those who have made the sacrifice for Canada.

It’s important that we remember, “lest we forget” and thus make the same mistakes again.

How Do We Remember Nov 11

november 11

Remembrance Day marks the day World War One ended. At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918, World War I officially ended. The Armistice was signed at 5am on November 11, 1918. Six hours later, at 11am, the long years of bitter fighting came to an end. The guns fell silent, the end of hostilities, and The Great War was finally over.

Every year on 11 November many programs and ceremonies are held all across Canada to celebrate this day. However, the official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, following a strict protocol. Every part of the program pays tribute to the courage and sacrifice of our beloved heroes. These often include:

  • The playing of “The Last Post”
    Traditionally played by a bugler, the mournful hymn symbolizes the end of the soldiers’ earthly life and that they have gone to their final rest.
  • A reading of the fourth verse of the ‘Ode of Remembrance’
    Taken from the Laurence Binyon poem ‘For The Fallen,’ the four most famous lines of the poem are read as a tribute to all casualties of war regardless of state or country.
  • Two minutes of silence
    At 11 a.m., a two-minute silence, the most central part of Remembrance Day ceremonies, is held to remember and honour the men and women who have fought for the country in wartime. It is a respectful silence, first declared on 7 November 1919 by King George V, wherein those few minutes of perfect stillness we are requested to turn our thoughts to remember those who gave their lives in wars and other conflicts in defence of peace and freedom in our country.

artificial poppies

Many people also choose to wear artificial poppies on their clothes in the weeks before Remembrance Day as a way to remember those who have given their lives in battle. Red poppies are the flowers that grew on the battlefields after World War One ended, and this is why it is used to symbolize the memory of those who died.

We also see special religious services organized each year. Wreaths are laid at local war memorials. Many of us choose to gather together for backyard BBQs, or to go camping, fishing and golfing or just to enjoy a nice evening out with friends and family.

However we choose to celebrate Remembrance Day in Toronto, we do so because we honour the sacrifice these heroes gave for our great country.  They died for us, they died for Canada. They lost their lives, their homes and families – sons, brothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers – and friends, so we can have the freedom and peace that we cherish today and, hopefully in the future.

This is the meaning of their sacrifice.

ww1 sacrifice

And so we must celebrate every year … to remember, so they will never be forgotten and we will never forget.

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