The Importance of Remembering

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, remember those that gave their lives so that we may enjoy our lives freely. Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020 is Remembrance Day, a time, to honour those men and women who died in the war for our country and our liberty. Each year on November 11, all Canadians pause for a moment of silence to honour the men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada during times of war and combat. We wear a poppy to remember the 2,300,000 Canadians who have served throughout Canada’s history and the fallen, over 118, 000 who gave the ultimate sacrifice – their lives. 
Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday. We all recognize this very important day, within our own communities across Canada. The national ceremony is held every year at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The Governor General of Canada presides over the ceremony. It is attended by the Prime Minister, government officials, veterans organizations, diplomatic representatives, other dignitaries and the general public. In recent years, the ceremony has drawn crowds of thousands, however, this year will look much different than years past. Barriers will set up to keep people away from the memorial, and police will be managing crowds to keep everyone safe and maintain a flow of traffic. The Royal Canadian Legion is asking people to pay their respects from home rather than in person. 

COVID-19 protocols will have a significant effect on this year’s Remembrance Day service at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. 
Provincial restrictions on public gatherings plan for a service with fewer than 100 guests inside the perimeter. The list of attendees will include the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Governor General, Juie Payette, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lawrence MacAulay, and the Silver Cross Mother 2020, Debbie Sullivan, all seated two metres apart from one another, maintaining social distancing protocol. 
Twenty-four veterans’ groups will each lay a wreath, adding to the more than 200 that will have been laid in advance. There will be a 21-gun salute following two minutes of silence, but this year’s ceremony will have no parades and very few dignitaries. COVID-19 will not allow the veterans who helped end the Second World War, from attending this year’s ceremony because they are highly vulnerable to the virus. In advance of the ceremony, Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, RCMP officers, and cadets march to the memorial led by a pipe band and a colour guard. At the end of the ceremony, they march away to officially close the ceremony. 
In 1915, Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, inspired by the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in WWI, wrote the most famous war memorial poem, “In Flanders Fields,” which is recited even
today by children in every school across our nation. The poem inspires the wearing of the poppy which is our national symbol of remembrance and respect for the Canadians who gave their lives during military service. 
The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day. Replica poppies are distributed by the Royal Canadian Legion to raise funds to provide assistance to Veterans for food, heating, clothing, medication, and medical equipment. The proceeds from donations also cover costs associated with essential home repairs and emergency shelter or assistance for Veterans and their families, and funding for Veteran Transition Programs related to the training, education and support needs of Veterans and their families. While poppies are free of cost, it is helpful for the Royal Canadian Legion when we take a poppy to provide a donation. This November 11, at 11:00 am wear your poppy and take a moment to pause and reflect on our freedom and to thank those who dedicated their lives so that we may be free. Lest we forget. 
IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM– Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae 
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