November 11 is Remembrance Day. Do you know what we’re remembering?
What’s it about?
Remembrance Day commemorates the moment armies stopped fighting and officially ended the First World War. More than this, it is an occasion to honour the sacrifices of those who have served and continue to serve the country during times of war, military conflict and in international peacekeeping activities.
Why November 11?
The armistice agreement that ended WWI started on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 am – this is the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. This is why every year, we pause in a moment of silence at 11 am on November 11.
How is Remembrance Day celebrated?
Remembrance Day celebrations may be more modest with the pandemic limiting large gatherings this year. Normally, a ceremony is held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa in which veterans, dignitaries, the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, members of the Diplomatic Corps and youth representatives participate. People also gather in memorial parks, community halls, schools and workplaces to observe a moment of silence at 11 am. You will notice too that government buildings will fly the Canadian flag and many will wear a poppy pin to honour this day.
Should I wear a poppy pin?
It’s not mandatory that you wear one but it’s wonderful if you could. Wearing a poppy pin is not only an outward sign of respect for our veterans, putting in a donation when getting one also supports projects that benefit individuals in the armed forces and their families. The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Campaign is one of its most important programs.
People wear them from the last Friday of October until Nov. 11. After the 11th, many place their poppy pins on a wreath or at the base of the Cenotaph or memorial as a sign of respect.
Aside from a poppy pin, you can also opt for a poppy-patterned mask. A Manitoba woman is making and selling these masks for the benefit of the Poppy Fund. You can email Briannablaire4@gmail.com or message Brianna Blaire on Facebook (read their story here: Manitoba woman selling poppy-patterned masks to give back to veterans, CTV News).
What else can I do to make the occasion meaningful?
- Learn about Canadian military history – Go to your local library or interview a veteran (contact your local veterans’ office). You can also find free learning resources here: Veterans Affairs Canada.
- Write to the armed forces to show your gratitude – This is also a great way to practice your writing skills in English. You can send it through this message board: Write to the Troops or mail your letter or card by following this: Instructions for mailing overseas.
- Make arts and crafts with your kids. Draw, paint or make poppies at home. See some samples and instructions here: Activities for the youth
- Fly the Canadian flag outside your house – Make sure to know flag etiquette before you do this: Rules for flying the National Flag of Canada.
- Donate to military and veterans charities like the Poppy Trust Funds.
What’s the proper greeting for veterans?
“Thank you for your service” is the most common phrase we use to honour veterans on this day. You can also say “Thank you for the sacrifice that you made for our country”.
Is it a statutory holiday?
November 11 is a federal, not a statutory holiday. Federal employees get a day off but there are non-Federal employers in the province that give employees a day off as well. There are also special conditions observed for those who work on this day. Read the Remembrance Day fact sheet on the Manitoba Employment Standards site.
Will stores be closed?
Retail stores must be closed between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm on November 11, but not those who sell or provide professional health services; veterinary service; drugs, medicine, infant formula; gasoline, motor oil; emergency vehicle repairs; or prepared meals or goods and services connected to living accommodations. Check online before you go: What’s open and what’s closed on Remembrance Day 2020 (note: news story to be updated).
Source: 10 quick facts on . . . Remembrance Day, Veterans Affairs Canada; and 7 facts about the poppy in time for Remembrance Day, Toronto.com. Accessed October 15, 2020.
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