Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today is the Remembrance Day in Canada


Canada observes the Remembrance Day every year on November 11. On this day, the Canadians commemorate the valiant sacrifices made by Canadian armed forces and civilians during times of war -- the First World War (1914-1918), Second World War (1939-1945), Korean War (1950-1953) and, lately, Afghanistan War.

It is observed on November 11, in memory of the signing of the Armistice (truce) between the Allies of the First World War and Germany at Rethondes, France, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. This armistice brought about the end of hostility on the Western Front.

In the week leading to the Remembrance Day, people wear poppy flower on their lapels. This flower symbolizes the sacrifices made by soldiers, especially on the Western Front, where this flower grew aplenty.

The Governor General and the Federal Government ministers participate in an impressive ceremony at the National War Memorial in the Confederation Square of downtown Ottawa to observe the Remembrance Day. Originally designed to honour 60,000 Canadians who died in the First World War, the National War Memorial now honours all of Canada's war dead.

Designed by Vernon March of England, the Memorial has a 21-metre high arch (with winged figures symbolizing Peace and Liberty) and 23 bronze figures (representing people who fought the First World War). These figures are moving from war to peace. The designer chose "The Great Response of Canada" as the theme of this National War Memorial.

The National War Memorial also houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was originally sited at the Canadian Memorial on Vimy Ridge, France. On May 25, 2000, the remains of this unknown Canadian soldier was brought to Canada and, after display of due respect in the Parliament Building, were laid to rest in the specially constructed tomb at the National War Memorial on May 28.

The following "Ode of Remembrance" is recited at the memorial services held on the Day of Remembrance. Laurence Binyon was the writer of the Ode of Remembrance, a poem published in the Times of London in September, 1914:

The Ode of Remembrance

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

On my visit to Ottawa on July 27, 2009, I had taken some photos of the National War Memorial. You may view these photos below:

The National War Memorial, Ottawa (July 27, 2009)
Photos © Jerome D'Costa

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