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Lest we forget

November 2016

At eleven o’clock on 11 November, the citizens of Barrie (Ontario) observed two minutes of silence, just as their fellow countrymen did all across Canada.  A few thousand gathered at the Cenotaph in Memorial Square in downtown Barrie to pay their respects to the men from Barrie, Vespra Township and Innisfil Township, who made the supreme sacrifice for Canada.

Citizens of all ages lined Dunlop Street to pay tribute to the veterans and currently serving military personnel standing in ranks in front of the Cenotaph.  While the veterans of World War II and the Korean War are getting older and fewer, the veterans of the First Gulf War, Afghanistan and the many peacekeeping missions around the world are still numerous.

Remembrance Day is the day British Commonwealth nations observe the end of hostilities of World War I on 11 November 1918; at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

King George V inaugurated the first Remembrance Day, then called Armistice Day, at Buckingham Palace on 11 November 1919.

Some have claimed that Remembrance Day glorifies war, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Remembrance Day is supposed to serve as a reminder to us that war comes at a terrible price; to honour the sacrifice of those who never came home and honour those who did, some horribly broken physically or emotionally.

All across Canada, current military personnel, veterans and ordinary citizen attend services held at Cenotaphs.  Schools, retirement homes and veterans hospitals usually hold special services for those unable to attend their local cenotaph.

The official symbol of Remembrance Day is the red poppy, due to the poem, “In Flanders Field,” written by Canadian physician and WWI soldier, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, of Guelph, Ontario.  Sadly, McCrae would never come home either, dying of pneumonia on 28 January 1918.

In Barrie, numerous wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph by all levels of governments and various organizations.  Silver Cross Mother Elizabeth McKay and her husband Fred also laid a wreath in memory of their son Private Kevin McKay, 24, who was killed by a roadside bomb in the Panjwali District of Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2010, while serving with the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry.

Also among those in attendance were Ed and Anna Nicol of Barrie, who brought with them the framed medals of Ed’s uncle, also named Ed Nicol, who served in the Canadian Merchant Marine in the Murmansk convoys in 1942, a lesser-known and dangerous convoy route through the Arctic Ocean to deliver much needed supplies to the Soviet Union. 

In addition to Remembrance Day, Canada has are two other days of remembrance that honour veterans:

In 1994, National Aboriginal Veterans day was established in recognition of the contributions of aboriginal members of the Canadian military.  It is held annually on 8 November.

In 2001, Merchant Navy Remembrance Day was established as a day to recognize the contributions and sacrifice of the Canadian Merchant Marine.  It is held annually on 3 September.

Canadian casualties of wars and conflicts since 1899:

South Africa (Boer) War (1899-1902) – 284

World War I (1914-1918) – over 68, 000

World War II (1939-1945) – over 47, 000

Korean War (1950-1953) – 516

Afghanistan War (2001-2014) – 158

Peacekeeping missions (since 1949) – 50

Lest we forget.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/lest-we-forget/

1 comment

  1. Mike Durcik

    Hello Bruce.
    I am writing to you after reading your post today in the Sun about Trump VS. Clinton if I may call it that.
    I wonder how many people are objective enough to share your views in this post? Obviously, they would be of a more or less conservative orientation.( I could be corrected ).
    I , myself have not much use for the perverted liberal idealism….

    I would encourage you to continue speaking your mind. You just might be surprised with the support among the readers!

    Mike.

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