Why we recognize Remembrance Day
The importance behind the day we honour veterans
By Amber McLinden, Features Editor
I recently listened to an episode of the popular podcast This American Life, titled “Things I Mean To Know,” detailing things people believe but don’t understand. You just don’t know everything. It’s a simple fact of life. You just accept the way things are sometimes, because we can’t understand everything.
Personally, I never understood why we have statutory holidays off. They come and go, school tells me I don’t have classes and I accept that and move on. But these days are a lot more meaningful than I once realized. We wouldn’t have a whole day off if there wasn’t a good reason.
That’s not to say I don’t know what Remembrance Day is as a general concept. I know it exists to recognize the sacrifices made by our armed forces and honour those who lost their lives, but I don’t know why it started. Who made it happen? Why is it on Nov. 11?
Well, it’s actually a pretty simple answer. It’s to mark the end of hostilities in the First World War, which occurred on Nov. 11 in 1918. The hostilities officially ended on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
The red poppy that we all wear during the time leading up to Remembrance Day is a sign of the popular poem, “In Flanders Fields,” detailing the red poppies that grow over the graves of fallen soldiers.
It is especially important to remember the lives that were lost during the First World War, but also important to remember all those who survived and have now passed away.
Canada’s veteran affairs website states, “We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument.”
Before I was in journalism at Mount Royal University, I was a history major for one year. I remember many people asking me, “What will you do with that degree?” I didn’t leave that major behind because I don’t think it’s useful and if I still believe one thing to be true, it’s that if we don’t remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it.
So there you have it. Remembrance Day is a way to remember those fallen in the First World War. It can mean many things to many people, like recognizing a tragedy or learning from our history.
But for all our remembering, at least now after reading this you can understand, in part, the significance behind the day. I urge you to remember, because as we continue recognize the last Canadian the First World War veteran is gone, we are left with no living memory of the past.