Today I stood watch as the services of remembrance unfolded at our national cenotaph. Year after year I stand as those who served and those who died are remembered and thanked. Is war a waste? Of this there can be no doubt. Is it sometimes necessary? There is sadly even less doubt. To those who have served their country in times of war and strife I offer our prayers of thanks and know regardless if the conflict is long ago or just short days away we honour your service and sacrifice and hope that you shall never need offer more again.
Dame Hime Themis
Lest we forget
LEST WE FORGET
By John McCrae (1915)
The Flanders Fields
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.
Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day
The first Thanksgiving Day in Canada after Confederation was observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.
No record is found of a Thanksgiving Day between 1872 and 1879.
From 1879 to 1898, both inclusive, it was observed on a Thursday in November. In 1899, it was fixed on a Thursday in October, where it stayed until 1907, with the exception of 1901 and 1904 when the date was fixed on a Thursday in November.
From 1908 to 1921, it was observed on a Monday in October, the exact date being appointed by proclamation.
From 1921 to 1930, the Armistice Day Act provided that Thanksgiving would be observed on Armistice Day, which was fixed by statute on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell.
In 1931, Parliament adopted an Act to amend the Armistice Day Act, providing that the day should be observed on November 11 and that the day should be known as "Remembrance Day".
Accordingly, the old practice was resumed of fixing Thanksgiving Day by proclamation, and it has been since 1931 on the second Monday of October, with the exception of 1935 where, after Thanksgiving Day had been fixed on October 14, it was decided to hold the general election on that date. A new proclamation was issued deferring the observance to October 24, a Thursday. This resulted in a great deal of controversy and the practice of observance on a Thursday was not pursued in future years.
From 1936 to 1956, inclusive, a proclamation was issued yearly to appoint the second Monday of October as Thanksgiving Day. In 1957, a proclamation was issued fixing permanently Thanksgiving Day on that day, thus eliminating the necessity of an annual proclamation.
Prior to 1867, there had been proclamations issued in Canada, the first one recorded being for 1799. The following is a list of the dates of the proclamations and observance of General Thanksgiving Days, and reasons therefore.
Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol of remembrance.
Poppies are sold every year as an act of remembrance to fallen soldiers at war. The poppy's significance to Remembrance Day is a result of Canadian military physician John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy emblem was chosen because of the poppies that bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their red colour an appropriate symbol for the bloodshed of trench warfare. A Frenchwoman, Anna E. Guérin, introduced the widely used artificial poppies given out today. Some people choose to wear white poppies, which emphasises a desire for peaceful alternatives to military action.
The Royal Canadian Legion suggests that poppies be worn on the left lapel, or as close to the heart as possible.
In Canada, the poppy is worn by many members of society during the two weeks prior to November 11.
The Canadian poppies consist of two pieces of molded plastic covered with flocking with a pin to attach them to clothing. The head portion of the pin is bent at an angle in a simple unusual design that requires a unique machine at manufacturing. Originally the poppies were manufactured with a black centre. From 1980 to 2002 the centres were changed to green to represent the green hills of Flanders. Current designs are black only; this reversion caused notable confusion and controversy to those unfamiliar with the original design. Until 1996, poppies were made by disabled veterans in Canada, but they have since been made by a private contractor.
LEST WE FORGET
A poem for our tradition.
Why Wear a Poppy ?
Poem by Don Crawford
“Please wear a Poppy”, the lady said and
held one forth, but I shook my head, Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,
And her face was old and lined with care;
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.
A boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on carefree feet,
His smile was full of joy and fun:
“Lady”, said he, “May I have one”?
When she pinned it on he turned to say,
“Why do we wear a poppy today”?
The lady smiled in her wistful way,
And answered, “This is Remembrance Day,
And the poppy there is a symbol for
The gallant men who died in war,
And because they did, you and I are free,
That’s why we wear the poppy, you see”.
I had a boy about your size,
With golden hair and big blue eyes.
He loved to play and jump and shout,
Free as a bird he would race about.
As the years went by he learned and grew,
And became a man – as you will, too.
But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray.
His letters told of the awful fight,
(I can see it still in my dreams at night)
With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire, and the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.
“Till at last, at last, the war was won –
And that’s why we wear a poppy, son.”
The small boy turned as if to go,
Then said, “Thanks lady, I’m glad to know,
That sure did sound like an awful fight,
But your son – did he come back all right?”
A tear rolled down each faded cheek:
She shook her head but didn’t speak.
I slunk away in a sort of shame,
And if you were me you’d have done the same:
For our thanks, in giving, is often delayed
Through our freedom was bought
And thousands paid.
And so when we see a poppy worn,
Let us reflect on the burden borne,
By those who gave their very all,
When asked to answer their country’s call.
That we at home in peace might live.
Then wear a poppy,