Home Canadian News Η Ημέρα Μνήμης τιμάται την 11η Νοεμβρίου κάθε έτους και σηματοδοτεί το...

Η Ημέρα Μνήμης τιμάται την 11η Νοεμβρίου κάθε έτους και σηματοδοτεί το τέλος του Α Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου το 1918

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Στις 11:00 π.μ. 11 Νοεμβρίου 1918, «την ενδέκατη ώρα, της ενδέκατης μέρας, του ενδέκατου μήνα» όπως αναφέρεται αρκετές φορές από τον τύπο η χρονική στιγμή έναρξης της συνθήκης ανακωχής των συμμάχων με τη Γερμανία της Κομπιέν (Compiègne), έληξε και επίσημα ο Πρώτος Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος.

Η επέτειος εορτάζεται με κατάθεση στεφάνου στο μνημείο Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη από ανώτατους εκπροσώπους των αρχών και κατά παράδοση με δύο λεπτών σιγή που αρχίζει στις 11:00 π.μ. της 11ης Νοεμβρίου, για να δοθεί φόρος τιμής στα 20 εκατομμύρια νεκρούς του Πρώτου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου.

Η κόκκινη παπαρούνα υιοθετήθηκε σαν σύμβολο της Remembrance Day, λόγω του ποιήματος «In Flanders Fields» (1915) του Καναδού ποιητή John McCrae, ο οποίος πολέμησε στον Α’ Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο. Ο μύθος θέλει τα πεδία των μαχών στην ευρύτερη περιοχή της Φλαμανδίας, στο Βέλγιο, να γεμίζουν με ανθισμένες παπαρούνες με το τέλος των εχθροπραξιών. Είναι γνωστό άλλωστε στην Αγγλία το ποίημα «Στα λιβάδια της Φλάνδρας» («Ιn Flanders field»), που έγραψε το 1915 ο υπολοχαγός Τζον ΜακΚρέι, προς τιμήν ενός φίλου του που σκοτώθηκε στη μάχη, και αναφέρεται στις παπαρούνες που άνθισαν εκείνο το Μάη,  στο μέτωπο. Ο ΜακΚρέι πρόσεξε τότε πως οι παπαρούνες ήταν το πρώτο άνθος που άρχισε να φυτρώνει στα έως τότε καμμένα λιβάδια του Βελγίου, ενώ το κόκκινο χρώμα έχει καθιερωθεί προς τιμήν του αίματος που έχυσαν στα πεδία των μαχών αρκετά εκατομμύρια στρατιώτες.

Remembrance Day 2019

Canadians recognize Remembrance Day, originally called Armistice Day, every 11 November at 11 a.m. It marks the end of hostilities during the First World War and an opportunity to recall all those who have served in the nation’s defence.

Armistice Day

Armistice Day was inaugurated in 1919 throughout much of the British Empire, but on the second Monday in November. In 1921, the Canadian Parliament passed an Armistice Day bill to observe ceremonies on the first Monday in the week of 11 November, but this combined the event with the Thanksgiving Day holiday. For much of the 1920s, Canadians observed the date with little public demonstration. Veterans and their families gathered in churches and around local memorials, but observances involved few other Canadians.

In 1928, some prominent citizens, many of them veterans, pushed for greater recognition and to separate the remembrance of wartime sacrifice from the Thanksgiving holiday. In 1931, the federal government decreed that the newly named Remembrance Day would be observed on 11 November and moved Thanksgiving Day to a different date. Remembrance Day would emphasize the memory of fallen soldiers instead of the political and military events leading to victory in the First World War.

11 November

Remembrance Day rejuvenated interest in recalling the war and military sacrifice, attracting thousands to ceremonies in cities large and small across the country. It remained a day to honour the fallen, but traditional services also witnessed occasional calls to remember the horror of war and to embrace peace. Remembrance Day ceremonies were usually held at community cenotaphs and war memorials, or sometimes at schools or in other public places. Two minutes of silence, the playing of the Last Post, the recitation of In Flanders Fields, and the wearing of poppies quickly became associated with the ceremony.

Remembrance Day has since gone through periods of intense observation and periodic decline. The 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995 marked a noticeable upsurge of public interest, which has not ebbed in recent years. It is now a national holiday for federal and many provincial government workers, and the largest ceremonies are attended in major cities by tens of thousands. The ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa is nationally televised, while most media outlets – including newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, and internet sources – run special features, interviews, or investigative reports on military history or remembrance-related themes.

The red poppy, a native plant along much of the Western Front during the First World War, has become a powerful symbol of remembrance. It is the principal emblem of the Royal Canadian Legion, which distributes several million each year to be worn by Canadians on Remembrance Day.

“In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow…”

The familiar symbol of the poppy owes much of its fame to Canadian poet and soldier John McCrae. In Flanders Fields, McCrae’s best-known poem, was inspired by and made reference to the poppies which grew along the Western Front. It opens, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row…”

The blood-red poppy had long been associated with the fighting armies of Europe, and the flowers often overgrew the mass graves left by battles. During the First World War, enormous artillery bombardments completely disrupted the landscape, infusing the chalk soils with lime. The poppies thrived in the environment, their colours standing out against the blasted terrain.

An Enduring Symbol

In 1921, the Great War Veterans’ Association, the largest of several Canadian veterans groups, adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance. The Canadian Legion, formed in 1925, continued this connection. The poppy was worn on the left lapel and close to the heart to recognize the sacrifice of soldiers in times of war. They were initially made by disabled veterans and the proceeds of sales, then and now, go towards funding veterans’ needs.

The poppy remains an enduring symbol of remembrance in Canada, Great Britain, the nations of the Commonwealth, and in the United States for those who served or fell in service of their country.