THUNDER BAY – The most famous poem read on Remembrance Day is “In Flanders Fields”. The final verse of John McCrae’s poem reads:
“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.”
We pause on November 11th at the 11th hour. We pause to remember those who have fought for freedom in World War One, World War Two, the Korean War, in peace-keeping missions, and now in the war in Afghanistan.
In World War One, the war that was to end war, many believe that it was on the field of battle that Canada was forged as a nation. Our soldiers fought bravely, and won honour on the battlefield for their heroics.
At Ypres in 1915 Canadian soldiers faced the first attack by the German Army using poison gas. The Canadians under those terrible conditions were able to repulse the attack.
At Vimy Ridge in 1917, Canadian soldiers were tasked with the formidable task of assaulting the German positions. The victory was widely celebrated as Canada’s “coming of age” as a nation.
Throughout our nation’s history, our soldiers have proven their courage, and their skill.
On Remembrance Day, we pause to remember. I remember in Winnipeg Manitoba as a youth when Remembrance Day was a day that was for the most part quiet and sombre. Stores were closed, schools were closed, and other than the essential services, nothing was open.
The day before November 11th, at school were the ceremonies for Remembrance Day, and as youth they were impressive in that they shared the importance of the sacrifices that our veterans had made.
Today, as time has advanced, Remembrance Day is different. Most businesses are open, schools are open, and in some cases it is like a normal day.
Perhaps however the reality is that for growing numbers of Canadians, Remembrance Day is taking on a more important role. Young people are taking up the torch, and carrying it into the future.
The youth in Canada care, and they remember. It is a solid sign, in an era where young people are taking on ever more important roles in society that the future remains bright.