Nations around the globe observe and pay homage to its war dead today. In Canada it is known as Remembrance Day, in the United States as Veterans Day and in the UK as Armistice Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, these nations ask their citizens to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service. Lest We Forget.
650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlander (Newfoundland became part of Canada in 1949) served during the Great War starting in 1914 and 66,000 paid the ultimate price.
During World War II, starting in 1939, more than a million Canadians and Newfoundlanders fought in Dieppe, Normandy, the North Atlantic, Hong Kong, during the liberation of Italy. More than 47,000 never came home.
Canadian troops again fought during the Korean conflict. Between 1950 and 1953 26,791 Canadian soldiers participated in that conflict, fighting the famous battles of Kapyong, where the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry won the U.S. Presidential Citation for repelling the enemy against overwhelming odds.
During the post war years Canada had a commitment in Europe as part of the cold war effort. Canada was also involved around the globe in UN peacekeeping operations. Canadians also deployed to Somalia. In January 2002 the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, a light infantry battalion with heliborne, desert and mountain warfare skills deployed to Kandahar in a commitment to the War against Terror. Canada has made a large contribution in Afghanistan and 158 soldiers and civilians died in Afghanistan.
While we should remember these soldiers each and every day and the unselfish sacrifices they have made, today is a special day. It should not be seen as just another day off. Spare a few moments and attend a ceremony near you. It isn’t asking too much. Lest We forget.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed on the Battlefield during the Battle of Ypres on May 3, 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae