Every year on November 11, Canadians pause to remember the sacrifices of those who have served and died in wars. This date marks the anniversary of the Armistice agreement of 1918 that ended the First World War. Above: Brandon Woodman, Supply Tech Petawawa (left) with WW2 veteran and Madawaska Valley resident Joseph Baxter. All photos Roger Prince.
Our Royal Canadian Legion Branch 406 in Barry’s Bay under the leadership of Branch President Heather Murray-Poliquin draws friends, neighbours and visitors from afar to remember those who have served and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Active service members of 2 Service Battalion from Garrison Petawawa participated in the Branch 406 ceremony, providing a Colour Party and sentries in place outside the Legion Hall, and escorting community members when laying wreaths.
As Branch Veterans Service Officer Paul Mitton read, “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.” This was followed by the laying of the official wreaths which numbered close to 50.
Branch President Poliquin welcomed the crowd who were reminded during the opening remarks that this year also marks the 75th anniversary of the first United Nations peacekeeping mission. The poppy also reminds us of the service of many thousands of Canadians who have taken part in peacekeeping duties and pays tribute to the 130 veterans who have given their lives in peacekeeping duties over the years.
The Last Post was played by bugler Kieran Donais, and following the Two Minutes of Silence, piper Annadeane Kerr played the Lament.
Following the laying of the wreaths, participants and those in attendance were invited to partake in a hearty luncheon, served by members and volunteers of Branch 406.
Although there were many memorable moments throughout the service and afterwards, one that stood out for so many was 99 year old Joseph Baxter, who served with the British Air Command (as our Canadian Air Force was called at that time) during WW2. Photo at top.
But why do we observe Remembrance Day and what does it mean to us today?
- The origins of Remembrance Day: Remembrance Day originated as Armistice Day in 1919, a year after the end of the First World War. It was a day to honour the more than 66,000 Canadians who lost their lives in the war. Over time, Remembrance Day expanded to include those who died in the Second World War, the Korean War, the war in Afghanistan and other conflicts.
- The symbols of Remembrance Day: One of the most recognizable symbols of Remembrance Day is the red poppy. The poppy was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Canadian soldier John McCrae, who wrote about the flowers that grew on the battlefields of Belgium and France. The poppy represents the blood of the fallen and the hope of new life. Millions of Canadians wear poppy pins in the weeks leading up to and on November 11th. Other symbols of Remembrance Day include the cenotaph, the wreath, and the Last Post.
- The ceremonies of Remembrance Day: On Remembrance Day, public ceremonies and church services are held across the country to pay tribute to those who served and died in wars. The ceremonies often include the playing of the Last Post, a bugle call that signals the end of the day and the beginning of a period of silence. The silence lasts for two minutes, starting at 11 a.m., the exact time the Armistice agreement took effect in 1918. During the silence, people reflect on the sacrifices and the losses of war. After the silence, the fourth stanza of the poem “For the Fallen” is read, followed by the laying of wreaths and singing our national anthem.
- The significance of Remembrance Day: Remembrance Day is not only a day to honour the past, but also a day to reflect on the present and the future. It is a day to acknowledge the courage and the dedication of those who serve and protect our country, and to appreciate the peace and the freedom we enjoy. It is also a day to recognize the cost and the consequences of war, and to promote a culture of peace and justice.
Remembrance Day is a day to remember, to mourn and to hope.