Από τις 5 έως τις 11 Νοεμβρίου τιμούμε αυτούς που έχουν υπηρετήσει τον Καναδά, στο παρελθόν και στο παρόν, σε περιόδους πολέμου, στρατιωτικών συγκρούσεων και ειρήνης.
Η Ημέρα Μνήμης τιμάται την 11η Νοεμβρίου κάθε έτους και σηματοδοτεί το τέλος του Α Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου το 1918.
Η πρόθεση της ημέρας είναι να θυμηθούμε τους πεσόντες του «Μεγάλου Πολέμου».
Στις 11:00 π.μ. 11 Νοεμβρίου 1918, «την ενδέκατη ώρα, της ενδέκατης μέρας, του ενδέκατου μήνα» αποτελεί την χρονική στιγμή έναρξης της συνθήκης ανακωχής των συμμάχων με τη Γερμανία της Κομπιέν (Compiègne), όπου 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.
LEADERS REFLECT ON VETERANS’ SACRIFICES
Earlier in the day, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon issued a statement reflecting on the day.
“It is important to learn about the stories of soldiers, past and present. Though some stories may be hard to hear, it is our responsibility to bear witness. Our hope is that by recalling past sacrifices, we can look to a peaceful future. It is up to all of us. It is in our hands. It is our duty to keep the memory alive,” she wrote in a statement published Thursday.
Trudeau also sent out a message.
“We pause to remember their brave sacrifices, and acknowledge a debt we can never repay. We pay tribute to those who have lost their lives, and those who have been physically or mentally scarred by their service, as well as their family members and loved ones,” reads a statement from Trudeau.
More than 2.3 million Canadians have served in uniform since Confederation.
“Thanks to their selflessness, dedication, and bravery, members of our military and police have been defending freedom, peace, and democracy – the values that we cherish deeply within our hearts,” Trudeau said.
Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, a veteran himself, said “Our veterans and those serving today represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian. Their selflessness and courage serve as an inspiration to all of us.
“To show your gratitude, wear a poppy, attend your local cenotaph ceremony, and take a moment of silence to reflect and remember that our country’s freedoms came at a great cost.”
Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign in Canada.
In his own statement, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh both recognized the day and criticized the federal government for what he called inaction to meet veterans’ needs.
“We need to make sure Canada’s veterans and their families are well supported. For too long, the government has not met the needs of veterans and it shows in the rise of homelessness and mental health challenges among those who have served their country. Veterans deserve more than empty promises,” he said.
Premier Doug Ford issues statement on Remembrance Day
Premier Doug Ford issued the following statement to mark Remembrance Day:
“Today, I am asking all Ontarians to join me in a moment of silence to honour the brave Canadian heroes who have sacrificed so much to defend our freedom, our rights, and our democracy.
Remembrance Day is a chance for us to acknowledge the debt of gratitude every Canadian owes to our fallen heroes, veterans and brave servicemen and women in their fight against tyranny and terror—both in the past and around the world today.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11th attacks and the beginning of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Over the next 13 years, over 40,000 Canadians served in Afghanistan, and sadly 158 soldiers did not return. Take a moment today to thank our Afghan veterans for their service, and to mourn those who sacrificed everything.
I encourage all Ontarians to pay their respects this Remembrance Week to our veterans, active servicemen and women, and our fallen heroes by wearing a poppy. It is a small way to show our gratitude to those who have fought to defend our country.”
Hundreds gather to honour veterans at Toronto’s Remembrance Day ceremony
Hundreds of people attended an in-person Remembrance Day ceremony outside of Toronto’s Old City Hall Thursday to honour the sacrifices of Canada’s veterans.
Last year’s ceremony was held virtually, with a small number of dignitaries attending in-person. At the beginning of his remarks, Mayor John Tory thanked members of the public for taking the time to come to the cenotaph at 60 Queen Street West.
“May I begin by saying how proud I am, not surprised, but proud that so many people have come out today after what we’ve been through and we’re still going through because this is such an important occasion,” he said.
A little more than 1,300 people also tuned in to watch the ceremony on the city’s Youtube channel.
The ceremony began with the playing of the “Last Post” followed by two minutes of silence.
The “Act of Remembrance” was read by Gerry Morgan, the District D Commander of the Royal Canadian Legion, while the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, was read by Sara Gehlaut, a volunteer with the Vimy Foundation of Canada.
The Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association also conducted a flyby over East York, Sunnybrook and Queen’s Park.
“We have gathered here together today, in the shadow of Old City Hall, to remember, as residents of Toronto have been doing for more than 100 years now,” Tory said in his opening remarks. “We gather here because they, men and women from this city and from across Canada, did their duty—and they often did way more than their duty because they answered the call, because they left their homes and families behind and because many of them never returned from that battlefield.”
“It is our duty to remember them, to never forget.”
Over the past century, almost 10,000 soldiers from Toronto did not make it home, the mayor said.
This year marks 100 years since the poppy became a symbol of remembrance in Canada. Tory noted that in 1921, the mayor of Toronto was presented with its first wreath of poppies.
“In that first year alone, a million poppies were distributed in Canada and almost $200,000 was raised,” Tory said. “It was the start of what has become an essential form of community support for the Royal Canadian Legion.”
Second World War veteran Marvin Gord laid the last wreath at the Toronto ceremony in honour of the Year of the Poppy.
Gord enlisted in the military with the goal of working as part of an aircraft crew, but was initially rejected because he wore glasses. Undeterred, he pivoted to become a radar specialist and toured in England, Italy and Africa.
In 2020, ahead of his 100th birthday, Gord walked a million steps to raise $1 million for the Baycrest Foundation, a charity that provides medical equipment and treatment for senior citizens.
He was joined to lay the poppy wreath by retired Major General David Fraser, a former Commander of Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
A separate ceremony was held at the Ontario Veteran’s Memorial at Queen’s Park for a small number of invitees.