Remembrance Day (sometimes known informally as Poppy Day owing to the tradition of the remembrance poppy) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Following a tradition inaugurated by King George V in 1919, the day is also marked by war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of First World War on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month", in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. ("At the 11th hour" refers to the passing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 am.) The First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.
The tradition of Remembrance Day evolved out of Armistice Day. The initial Armistice Day was observed at Buckingham Palace, commencing with King George V hosting a "Banquet in Honour of the President of the French Republic" during the evening hours of 10 November 1919. The first official Armistice Day was subsequently held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace the following morning. During the Second World War, many countries changed the name of the holiday. Member states of the Commonwealth of Nations adopted Remembrance Day, while the US chose Veterans Day.
Observance in the Commonwealth
Canadian Poppy pins adorn a memorial at McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario
The common British, Canadian, South African, and ANZAC tradition includes a one- or two-minute silence at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (11:00 am, 11 November), as that marks the time (in the United Kingdom) when the armistice became effective.
The Service of Remembrance in many Commonwealth countries generally includes the sounding of the "Last Post", followed by the period of silence, followed by the sounding of "Reveille" or sometimes just "The Rouse" (often confused for each other), and finished by a recitation of the "Ode of Remembrance". The "Flowers of the Forest", "O Valiant Hearts", "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and "Jerusalem" are often played during the service. Services also include wreaths laid to honour the fallen, a blessing, and national anthems.
The central ritual at cenotaphs throughout the Commonwealth is a stylised night vigil. The Last Post was the common bugle call at the close of the military day, and The Rouse was the first call of the morning. For military purposes, the traditional night vigil over the slain was not just to ensure they were indeed dead and not unconscious or in a coma, but also to guard them from being mutilated or despoiled by the enemy, or dragged off by scavengers. This makes the ritual more than just an act of remembrance but also a pledge to guard the honour of war dead. The act is enhanced by the use of dedicated cenotaphs (literally Greek for "empty tomb") and the laying of wreaths—the traditional means of signalling high honours in ancient Greece and Rome.
n Canada, Remembrance Day (Jour du Souvenir) is a statutory holiday in all three territories and in six of the ten provinces (Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec being the exceptions). From 1921 to 1930, the Armistice Day Act provided that Thanksgiving would be observed on Armistice Day, which was fixed by statute on the Monday of the week in which 11 November fell. In 1931, the federal parliament adopted an act to amend the Armistice Day Act, providing that the day should be observed on 11 November and that the day should be known as Remembrance Day. A bill (C-597) intended to make Remembrance Day a federal statutory holiday was tabled in the House of Commons during the 41st parliament, but died on the order paper when parliament was dissolved for a federal election. In a more informal manner, there has been the opinion voiced against the marketing trend called Christmas creep that the conclusion of Remembrance Day should be the earliest acceptable time in which to mark the Christmas holidays.
The federal department of Veterans Affairs Canada states that the date is of "remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace"; particularly the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts since then in which members of the Canadian Armed Forces have participated. The department runs a program called Canada Remembers with the mission of helping young and new Canadians, most of whom have never known war, "come to understand and appreciate what those who have served Canada in times of war, armed conflict and peace stand for and what they have sacrificed for their country."
The Guard of Honour (a member from the Royal Canadian Navy at left and from the Royal Canadian Air Force at right) at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Remembrance Day, 2010
The official national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. These are presided over by the Governor General of Canada and attended by the prime minister, other dignitaries, the Silver Cross Mother, and public observers. Occasionally, a member of the Canadian Royal Family may also be present (such as Prince Charles in 2009 and Princess Anne in 2014).
Before the start of the event, four sentries and three sentinels (two flag sentinels and one nursing sister) are posted at the foot of the cenotaph. The commemoration then typically begin with the tolling of the carillon in the Peace Tower, during which current members of the armed forces arrive at Confederation Square, followed by the Ottawa diplomatic corps, ministers of the Crown, special guests, the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL), the royal party (if present), and the viceregal party. The arrival of the governor general is announced by a trumpeter sounding the "Alert", whereupon the viceroy is met by the Dominion President of the RCL and escorted to a dais to receive the Viceregal Salute, after which the national anthem, "O Canada", is played.
Poppies are laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Remembrance Day in Ottawa
The moment of remembrance begins with the bugling of "Last Post" immediately before 11:00 am, at which time the gun salute fires and the bells of the Peace Tower toll the hour. Another gun salute signals the end of the two minutes of silence, and cues the playing of a lament, the bugling of "The Rouse", and the reading of the Act of Remembrance. A flypast of Royal Canadian Air Force craft then occurs at the start of a 21-gun salute, upon the completion of which a choir sings "In Flanders Fields". The various parties then lay their wreaths at the base of the memorial; one wreath is set by the Silver Cross Mother (a recent recipient of the Memorial Cross) on behalf of all mothers whose children died in conflicts in which Canada participated. The viceregal and/or royal group return to the dais to receive the playing of the Canadian Royal Anthem, "God Save the Queen", prior to the assembled armed forces personnel and veterans performing a march past in front of the viceroy and any royal guest, bringing about the end of the official ceremonies. A tradition of paying more personal tribute has emerged since erection of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in 2000: after the official ceremony the general public place their poppies atop the tomb.
Similar ceremonies take place in provincial capitals across the country, officiated by the relevant lieutenant governor, as well as in other cities, towns, and even hotels or corporate headquarters. Schools will usually hold special assemblies for the first half of the day, or on the school day prior, with various presentations concerning the remembrance of the war dead. The largest indoor ceremony in Canada is usually held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with over 9,000 gathering in Credit Union Centre in 2010; the ceremony participants include veterans, current members of the Canadian forces, and sea, army, and air cadet units.
Canadian Remembrance poppy
In 1994, National Aboriginal Veterans Day was inaugurated to recognise the contribution of Aboriginal soldiers. In 2001, Merchant Navy Remembrance Day was created by the Canadian parliament, designating 3 September as a day to recognise the contributions and sacrifice of Canadian merchant mariners.
Sandra P. 11/10/2019