In honour of our veterans

Recognizing their sacrifices on Remembrance Day

On Friday millions of people around the world will take a few moments to remember those lost in battles or who have fought and lived to tell of their war experiences.

Remembrance Day is becoming more meaningful with the never-ending conflicts around the globe. With these deaths there is a reminder of how vigilant we must be to guard the gift of peace and stability we enjoy here at home.

When the world is a relatively calm place, Remembrance Day can be a difficult day for the younger set, not to mention many adults, to relate to. Services may be well attended but the realities of war and loss are hard to connect with in times of relative calm. Unfortunately, often young people have little to bridge themselves to the wars of the past. Even young adults and ‘baby boomers’ can be estranged from what it felt like to witness the horrendous realities of war.

The importance of never forgetting the sacrifices of those who have served in the war is that much more greater. The younger generations need to be informed of those men and women who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.

As for the poppy, a writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that, “Fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended.”

After John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields was published in 1915 the poppy became a popular symbol for soldiers who died in battle.

According to Wikipedia, McCrae was born Nov. 30th, 1872 in McCrae House in Guelph, Ontario to Lieutenant-Colonel David McCrae and Janet Simpson Eckford; he was the grandson of Scottish immigrants. Though various legends have developed as to the inspiration for the poem, the most commonly held belief is that McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields on May 3rd, 1915, the day after presiding over the funeral and burial of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who had been killed during the devastating Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was written as he sat upon the back of a medical field ambulance near an advance dressing post at Essex Farm, just north of Ypres.

The poppy, which was a central feature of the poem, grew in great numbers in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders.

Three years after McCrae’s poem was written an American, Moina Michael, was working in a New York City YMCA canteen when she started wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield.

During a 1920 visit to the United States a French woman, Madame Guerin, learned of the custom. On her return to France she decided to use handmade poppies to raise money for the destitute children in war-torn areas of the country. In November, 1921, the first poppies were distributed in Canada.

On Remembrance Day we’re all united in a common cause to consider what has been given for us – both recently and in the years before many of us were even born. The relevance of the day must never be forgotten. The point is, it’s just not another day off, too much has been lost and too high a price has been paid for anyone to have careless attitudes about such an important day.

Show your appreciation for the sacrifices these men and women have given for us.

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