Canadians have fought in most of the major conflicts for the past century. When the First World War ended with the signing of the Armistice on November 11th 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month a tradition began. Remembrance Day or Armistice Day was officially recognized by King George V on 7 November 1919 as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I. Since that time most countries in the Commonwealth of Nations observe it as a day to remember all those who have or are currently serving in the Armed Forces in any capacity.
Many Canadians, myself included, have very strong feelings about this day and those veterans who are being remembered. I am going provide a few examples of how we feel. I am not ashamed to say I cried a bit while I composed this.
“In Flanders Fields” was written during the First World War by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially unsatisfied with his work, discarded it. Its references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best known literary works.
On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the stores PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. Terry was impressed with the stores leadership role in adopting the Legions two minutes of silence initiative. He felt that the stores contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable. When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the two minutes of silence to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect. Terry s anger towards the father for trying to engage the stores clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, A Pittance of Time.
Highway of Heroes
On August 24, 2007, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) announced that the stretch of Highway 401 between Glen Miller Road in Trenton and the intersection of the Don Valley Parkway and Highway 404 in Toronto would bear the additional name Highway of Heroes, in honour of Canadian soldiers who have died, though Highway 401 in its entirety remains designated as the Macdonald–Cartier Freeway. This length of the highway is often travelled by a convoy of vehicles carrying a dead soldier’s body, with his or her family, from CFB Trenton to the coroner’s office at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto. Since 2002, when the first dead Canadian soldiers were returned from Afghanistan, crowds have lined the overpasses to pay their respects as convoys pass.
On Nov. 11, 2008 a US News program showed the following to explain how we feel about the Highway of Heroes.
The Trews, a Canadian band eleased the single “Highway Of Heroes”. It was inspired by the 2006 death of Capt. Nichola Goddard, the first Canadian female soldier killed in Afghanistan and a schoolmate of members of the Trews. The song was made available on iTunes in Canada only, with all proceeds from the sales of the song going to the Canadian Hero Fund, a charity that provides academic scholarships to the spouses and children of soldiers killed in combat.