This morning I attended a “culture event” in Durham in celebration of Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday. People throughout the town met together on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, where we held a short service in memory of the men and women who have died in military service.
The service was held in front of a cenotaph in the Veteran’s Memorial Park in town. They sang the national anthem, “O Canada”; had a g-n salute; prayed, sang “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”; sang the national hymn, “God Save the Queen”; and then different schools, churches, and organizations proceded to lay wreaths at the base of the cenotaph.
Afterwards, they paraded down main street.
Remembrance Day is very similar to Veteran’s Day in the US (it falls on the same day). It “marks the armistice to end the First World War, which came into effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a year earlier…Two minutes before the armistice went into effect, at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, Pte. George Lawrence Price was felled by a bullet. Price would become the final Commonwealth soldier — and the last of more than 66,000 Canadians — to be killed in the First World War” (CBC).
Last year I learned that in the month of November, many Canadians wear a red poppy pinned over their heart in remembrance and respect. Most pastors, businessmen, government employees, cashiers, patriotic citizens, etc. will wear them beginning the week before November 11th. This tradition was inspired from a poem, In Flanders Field, that Canadian Lt.-Col. John McCrae wrote in memory of his fallen comrades. The red poppies were apparently the only “plant that grew in battle-scarred fields of Northern France and Flanders during WWI” (BBC).