In Canada, perhaps there is no prouder, more patriotic, more sobering date than November 11. Remembrance Day is the one day of the year, it seems, that Canadians across the country set aside their differences, pick up their poppies, and proudly stand for a minute of silence.
Armistice was declared on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month of 1918, effectively ending the bloodiest war the world had seen to that date. Europe was in shambles, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers in both Allied and Axis countries would never return home. It was the worst tragedy the world had witnessed. Alas that it was not the last. Only a short time later, mounting tension between Germany and the West launched the globe into another, even bloodier theatre of war, World War II. Altogether the 20th century was one of the bloodiest and most tense 100 years the world had ever witnessed, and Canada came together as a nation through it all.
It has been stated that, prior to the Great War, Canadians were a rather shambled, unified and squabbling bunch of people. The country wasn’t even complete, as we know it today. Alberta and other provinces had joined the Confederation only 9 years ago (1905). Nunavut was not even a glimmer of an idea, and Newfoundland and Labrador belonged to Britain. All in all, no one yet knew or recognized what Canada could become. When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, Canada was slightly unwillingly dragged into a fight on a continent many people had only just left a few years ago. Although conscription was fiercely denied, it eventually became a necessity in both World Wars. These men and women fought and died on soil they had never seen, in countries that they had never visited, for a cause they didn’t always believe in. But, help was needed by the Allies and Canadians and Australians and South Africans, Indians and Americans all eventually joined the Allied effort. Germany and the Axis Powers were twice defeated and, arguably, the world itself was saved by the deaths of thousands of Canadian soldiers.
We are forever indebted to them for their sacrifice and their selflessness. Canada is a wonderful, free and strong place to call home, and men and women continue to enlist to preserve that security. Tomorrow, on November 11th, at 11 in the morning, please remember to pause and silently stand in thanks and tribute to those who have given their lives, their effort and their safety that we may continue to live ours as free Canadians.
Lest We Forget