In many countries around the world, at the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month we stop to remember those who fought for our freedom. Canadians call November 11 Remembrance Day in honour of the more than 1.5 million men and women who have proudly served their country in times of war and conflict in search of peace.
No matter how busy our lives get, it’s important take time to remember the sacrifices so many people made for their fellow Canadians.
Why Remembrance Day is Still Relevant
Here is a reminder of why Remembrance Day is relevant for us today.
- Veterans left their homes for us
- They left their families for us
- They fought for us
- And they died for us
As more time passes since World War I and World War II, we may feel as if these are “a thing of the past,” or that somehow these global events no longer matter or affect our lives.
We may lose touch with the impact of the Great Wars as veterans pass away and fewer people remember living through these horrific events.
No matter how much time passes, Remembrance Day is still relevant and important to Canadians and Canadian culture. Every year, school-aged children are taught about Remembrance Day, the soldiers who fought, symbols of peace and why we remember.
Maintaining this tradition and expectation of teaching our younger generations to carry on the legacy will help ensure that we never forget.
If we forget, then all those soldiers died in vain. What was it all for?
We live in a free nation because of the sacrifices our veterans and fallen soldiers made on our behalf. If not for them, we would not have the same freedoms and privileges we enjoy today. They fought for the future of a country they believed in, one they dreamed of but may not have seen for themselves.
Their hope and legacy rests in the hearts and minds of each and every Canadian through observances such as Remembrance Day.
5 Ways to Respectfully Observe Remembrance Day
Here are five simple ways you can observe this occation in a respectful way.
Attend a Remembrance Day ceremony
Every November 11, thousands of Remembrance Day ceremonies are held across the country in legions, churches, cemeteries, schools, parks and community buildings. People assemble to share stories, show respect and to remember those who served, were wounded or died for their country.
If you do not know where to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony you can use this tool by the Royal Canadian Legion to search for local ceremonies in your area, or watch the National Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa virtually.
Read about our history
Reading accounts and stories from the wars can bring us closer to those who lived it. It allows us to learn and reflect upon what war has done to our planet and what peace means for us.
Reading to children is a great way to bring up and talk about the difficult subject of war. Schools, libraries and book stores have excellent resources available to teachers, parents and community members.
Here is a list of some of the top recommended picture books to read for Remembrance Day for children of all ages. For adults who want to commemorate the day, CBC books has curated a list of Canadian literature to mark the occasion.
Watch age-appropriate shows about war
Watching movies or videos on the topics of war and remembrance can help you visualise and immerse yourself in both the negative and prosperous times in our history.
You may also consider other critically-acclaimed World War II movies such as Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or The Book Thief.
These heavy movies may not be suitable for children or all audiences. Even so, there are still many short videos that can help children understand these topics, such as this beautiful animation by the BBC.
Write about Remembrance Day
Writing can be therapeutic and help us relieve our minds from our swirling thoughts and emotions. Children and adults can take part in this practice by writing a stream of consciousness, poems, stories and letters to commemorate Remembrance Day in a healthy way.
This writing may be something you want to share with others at a Remembrance Day ceremony or with grandparents, or it may be something you want to keep private.
If you feel compelled, you may even want to write a caring message to a soldier to show your appreciation. The Canadian government has a platform for civilians to donate and send messages to Canadian troops via a monitored message board.
Wear a poppy
The easiest thing we can all do each November is wear a poppy on our jacket or shirt. The poppy flower is a recognizable symbol of Remembrance Day worn by millions of Canadians each year to show that we have not forgotten.
Donations from poppy sales go toward providing assistance to veterans. These men and women gave us everything. The very least we can do is support them in their time of need.
You may also show your support and respect by laying a poppy wreath or placing a poppy on a soldier’s gravestone to participate in the No Stone Left Alone initiative.
However you choose to celebrate the lives that were saved and lost through war and conflict this November 11, please take a moment to remember who we’ve lost and show gratitude for what we have gained because of them. Lest we forget.