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Today is November 11th and in Canada that means it is Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday in most of Canada, and a day of great significance. On this day, we remember the armed forces who have died in the line of duty as well as those who continue to serve in the armed forces. The day marks the anniversary of the end of hostilities of the First World War which formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. To honour the fallen on Remembrance Day, Canadians observe several traditions, the most common being the wearing of red poppies, and the Two Minutes of Silence.
The red poppies or “Remembrance poppies” are artificial flowers that we wear on our clothes to serve as a reminder of those who fought and died. The Royal Canada Legion suggests wearing the poppy on the left side of your body to be as close to your heart as possible. The significance of the poppy comes from the poem “In Flanders Field” written by Canadian physician John McCrae on May 3, 1915. The poem is written from the perspective of the fallen soldiers and mentions the growth of poppies around the graves of war victims in a region of Belgium.
At 11:00 AM on Remembrance Day, we observe a 2-minute period of silence. This time is taken to pause, reflect, and honour and thank our fallen. The Two Minutes of Silence can be observed regardless of where you are at 11:00 AM, whether you’re in a private or public space. The period of silence begins at 11:00 AM to honour the hour when the hostilities of the First World War ended.
There are many other ways to acknowledge and honour Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day parades and memorial ceremonies are held in many towns and cities. Many churches traditionally offer Remembrance Day masses. Bear in mind that these events may not take place this year or may take place virtually or in a smaller form to comply with COVID regulations.
There is no set way to spend Remembrance Day. You are free to acknowledge as many or as few of the customs as you deem appropriate for yourself. Remember to respect the meaning of the day and respect how others choose to honour it. Stay safe and have a good Remembrance Day.