Thursday, November 11, 2010

We Will Always Remember

On the 11th hour
...of the 11th day
.......of the 11th month
they laid their arms down
and we will always remember their sacrifice.

Donald Pearce wrote these words from a front line dugout:

When will it all end? The idiocy and the tension, the dying of young men, the destruction of homes, of cities, starvation, exhaustion, disease, children parentless and lost, cages full of shivering, starving prisoners, long lines of civilians plodding through mud, the endless pounding of the battle-line.

The Veteran's Affars Canada has this info about the poppies we wear at this time every year:
On November 11, especially, but also throughout the year, we have the opportunity to remember the efforts of these special Canadians. In remembering, we pay homage to those who respond to their country's needs. On November 11, we pause for two minutes of silent tribute, and we attend commemorative ceremonies in memory of our war dead.

Following the First World War a French woman, Madame E. Guérin, suggested to British Field-Marshall Earl Haig that women and children in devastated areas of France could produce poppies for sale to support wounded Veterans. The first of these poppies were distributed in Canada in November of 1921, and the tradition has continued ever since, both here and in many parts of the world.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae c 1914
Poppies are worn as the symbol of remembrance, a reminder of the blood-red flower that still grows on the former battlefields of France and Belgium. During the terrible bloodshed of the second Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, wrote of these flowers which lived on among the graves of dead soldiers:

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.
John McCrae

The flowers and the larks serve as reminders of nature's ability to withstand the destructive elements of war by men, a symbol of hope in a period of human despair. In Canada, traditionally the poppies which we wear were made by disabled Veterans. They are reminders of those who died while fighting for peace: we wear them as reminders of the horrors of conflict and the preciousness of the peace they fought hard to achieve.

Remembrance Day Parade Toronto, Canada 2009

Is there someone you'd like us to remember today?

Donald Pearce, Journal of a War: North-West Europe, 1944-1945. Toronto, Macmillan, 1965

John McCrae, In Flanders Fields and Other Poems. Edited by Sir Andrew Macphail, Toronto, Briggs, 1919

Veteran's Affairs Canada


  1. great posting Anita. I love hearing tidbits of Canadian traditions that coincide with shared holidays. i'm staying home today since my husband served 20 years in the Navy and he likes it when i do that in honor of all veterans of the Armed services (since it's called Veteran's Day south of the border)

    which means i should thank you for your service to your country as well. Thank you. No matter the length of the service it means a lot that you put your life on the line to keep freedom safe.

  2. Thank you for writing such an informative and heart-felt piece, Anita. And for your own service in the Armed Forces.

    My great-uncle served in WWI (Vimy and Passchendaele) and came home suffering from shell-shock (the term used then for PTSD). Several of my uncles were overseas in different branches of the forces in the Second World War, and they all came home, tho many of their friends and my aunt's fiance did not.

    My husband served in the Canadian Army, tho not in war-time. He also saw the other side of WWII in Europe. Through his insights on war and its effects on civilians when their countries are the battlegrounds, as well as the toll on soldiers, I always take a broader view on Remembrance Day.

    Without diminishing in any way the honour that we pay to our war dead and the sacrifices they made for our country, I think of all who suffer the consequences of war anywhere in the world, and I pray for peace.

  3. Karyn - Thanks for taking time to tell me. :)

    Deb - Good for you for staying home today. I assumed it was a national day of Remembrance for everyone until I did some surfing last night. At least Twitter and FaceBook are talking about it. Nice to see you. And you're welcome. Give your hubby a hug for me, ok? From all you've said, he's a great guy. No wonder he 'won' you. :)

    Anita Mae.

  4. Hi Hazel. Thank you for the kind words, but most of the ones I put on that post (the ones in italics) are from Veterans Affairs and not mine. I tried putting the info into my own words, but it just didn't make sense to try to improve on what they've done. And I certainly didn't want to do anything to detract from it. But I appreciate your words because it took time to put it all together.

    Oh, another great husband. I'm sure you watched him when he used to be with the vets on parade, no?

    I used to go to the legion meetings but I was the only female on that side of the divided room. All the other ladies were on the auxiliary side, so I switched. Then our branch closed. That's the sad part about it - the vets are passing away and the legions are closing. We have to make a big deal now or our children won't remember.

    (Anita Mae picks up her soap box and after a quick glance around, throws it over the hedge.)

    Thanks for the visit today.

    Anita Mae.


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