Once a year, November 11th appears. We see poppies on lapels. We hear a familiar poem. We see veterans in uniform. But do we know why? Do we know the stories behind the date and the poppy?
Sometimes it is hard to remember that November 11th became Remembrance Day because it was the day the armistice agreement ended the First World War on Monday, November 11th, 1918. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
We should all know that remembrance day is to honour veterans who fought in ww1, but it is also to respect all veterans who have served our country. And to commemorate that day, the poppy was chosen in 1921 as a symbol to represent remembrance and sacrifice, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae…a Canadian.
On this day, it is essential to pause and remember the sacrifices,…the freedoms we so readily enjoy… And most importantly, the people who have served to fight for our country and us.
One such person was a military policeman who served from 1964-1978. He served in the Airforce and military police. On the condition of anonymity, he sat down with me to share some experiences of being in the military. He was one of many who enlisted at an early age. At 17, he joined the military at a time when there were limited job opportunities. However, he soon found that being in the Canadian military, he faced deployment to various locations. He found himself in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and eventually Europe and the Middle East, including Egypt and Israel.
Training in St. John, Quebec, and Cobourg, Ontario, he learned to speak French (although he has lost it since). Something that stood out for was the contrast between serving in Alberta where the temperature was -40 degrees Celsius, and Cairo, Egypt, where it was +40!
With Remembrance Day is upon us, he said, “It is the most important day all year.” He continued to say that thanks to those who serve and have served, we live in a free country. Therefore, all people should learn and know about our history.
Next time you see the poppy, hear the poem “In Flanders Field”, see the veterans, pause and think, it’s vital not to forget the sacrifices our Armed Forces have made and continue to make for us every day.