Heroism and sacrifice
By Robyn Welsh, Features Editor
As you may already know, Remembrance Day – Nov. 11 – signifies the final day of the First World War. In 1918, the war finally came to a close on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and now, many individuals take two minutes of silence to remember those who died in the war.
But why is it important to remember? We remember so that the sacrifices of our fellow Canadians remain meaningful. Often, it is taken for granted the amount of freedom we have as a citizens of such a peaceful country. The very freedoms we place confidence in today are what the soldiers in the First World War fought to protect. Though we are not always conscious of it, we often forget how lucky we are to have the amount of freedom and safety that we do.
It is important to remember several notable battles during the war in order to fully comprehend the Canadian casualties. The battle at Ypres, Belgium, Canada’s first major battle, saw catastrophic casualties. German troops used chlorine gas to slow the Canadian troops from advancing, and in the span of 48 hours a third of the Canadian troops were dead, laying in pools of their and their comrades’ blood.
Another important battle to remember is Vimy Ridge. Though Canada had a major victory in Vimy Ridge, there were more than 10,000 casualties within six days, and after this the war continued on for more than a year.
During the war, poppies quickly became a symbol of remembering and the war. Popularized in Canada by John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” poppies became a beacon of hope – a symbol of nature withstanding the war and violence of war and man. Though the fighting continued on, poppies bloomed and thrived between crosses and continued to cover fields.
The poppies that are worn in Canada are typically made by disabled war Veterans. Proceeds from purchasing poppies go toward The Poppy Campaign: a campaign that supports Veterans and their families if they are in need.
So take it upon yourself to pause for a couple minutes on Nov. 11, remember the bravery, sacrifices, and pure heroism of our Canadian soldiers – not only in the First World War, but every war Canada has fought in since. If you decide to wear a poppy on your lapel, remember what and who it stands for so that the sacrifices and lives of those who fought will forever live on.