This Week in History
Lest We Forget
For the week of Monday November 12, 2001
On November 11, 1919, Canada celebrated Remembrance Day for the first time. Every year after, Canada has observed this day so that the sacrifice of those who served in the First World War will always be remembered.
On November 6, 1919, Sir George Foster, acting Prime Minister, read a message from King George V asking everyone in the British Empire to remember the freedom won through the sacrifice of the soldiers. To honour them he suggested that on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the war had officially ended, there be complete silence for two minutes. The King's wishes were observed throughout Canada. This day became a legal holiday in 1921 and was called Armistice Day. In 1931 it became known as Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day has changed a lot since that first year. It not only honours soldiers in the First World War, but also the Second World War, the Korean War, and Canada's peacekeeping missions. Two million Canadians served overseas in these wars. More than one hundred thousand died. Remembrance ceremonies are held across the country with veteran parades and hymns of praise; poppies are worn, and wreaths are laid at cenotaphs. At 11:00 a.m. a bugler plays Last Post, symbolizing death, and after two minutes of silence, the bugler plays Reveille, symbolizing hope and continued life.
There are many commemorations for Canada's role in the First World War. William Avery 'Billy' Bishop, Margaret C. Macdonald and John McCrae are persons of national historic significance. No. 2 Construction Battalion, C.E.F. is an event of national historic significance commemorating the contribution of Blacks to the Canadian effort. Beaumont-Hamel and Vimy Ridge, France, are National Historic Sites of Canada.
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