By Athina Tagidou
Each year as November 11 approaches Canadians across the country are reminded to reflect and pay their respect to the thousands of people who lost their lives for Canada in WW1. The first world war –also referred to as the ‘Great War’ or ‘the war to end all wars’ – took place from July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918 with Canada entering the war on August 4, 1914. During this time over 60,000 Canadian soldiers fell in action, more than 170,000 returned home wounded and thousands more were permanently broken by the impact of their experience during this time.
With the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo, capital of the Austrian province Bosnia, tensions continued to arise in Europe leading to the initial declaration of war by Austria-Hungary against Serbia and resulting in the first truly global war. Although it began in Europe, WW1 spread throughout the world with other countries joining the Alliance or Central Powers. With the leadership of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, Greece entered WW1 on July 2, 1917 by declaring war on the Central Powers and the Greek soldiers then joined the Allied ranks. There were approximately 27,000 Greek soldiers in WW1. From these nearly 5,000 were killed; wounded were about 21,000 while almost 1,ooo soldiers were prisoners of war or missing.
Remembrance Day – or as it was initially named and known as Armistice Day – unites us all in remembering the millions of brave people who fought with courage for their respective countries. In Canada on November 11th at 11 am, ceremonies are held throughout the country in towns and cities organized by the Royal Canadian Legions, town/city councils, communities and schools. These ceremonies include prayer and recitations, which are followed by the traditional military bugle calls of the ‘Last Post’, the 2 minutes of silent reflection and then by ‘Reveille’ and the laying of the memorial wreaths. In Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, the largest Remembrance Day ceremony is held at the National War Memorial attended by the Prime Minister, the Governor General and thousands of people who come to pay their respect. Remembrance Day in Canada is a federal statutory holiday as well as a provincial holiday in most provinces except for Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
For the youth, with the theme of Remembrance, the Royal Canadian Legion Branches across Canada welcome submissions from students divided into 4 grade categories from primary to secondary grades in the categories of a poster, essay or poem. This annually held contest accepts all entries submitted to the students’ local Royal Canadian Legion Branch. The winners from each category at each Branch are then submitted into the Provincial competition. Then, the provincial winners are entered into the national level. For more information on the Remembrance Day Contest for Youth and the contest guidelines contact your local Royal Canadian Legion Branch. This November 11th take the time to reflect, commemorate and appreciate the purpose of Remembrance Day. Support your local Royal Canadian Legion Branch by attending their Remembrance Day memorial ceremony along with wearing the symbolic red poppy in memory of the millions of brave fallen soldiers during World War 1.
Lest We Forget.