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  • Mariah Wilson

The History of Remembrance Day

Around the country, many will be honouring the sacrifices Canadians have made during the wars of the 20th century by participating in a few moments of silence.

This action along with other symbols, stories, and traditions associated with Remembrance Day have a long and storied past that aren’t widely known or readily discussed. We’ve highlighted the history of these traditions to give you and your family more ways to connect with this day as well as learn about our country’s past.

How did Remembrance Day start?

Starting in 1919, the year after WWI ended, Remembrance Day (originally called "Armistice Day") was observed across the British Commonwealth to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended World War One on November 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. — the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. You can read more about the history of this day here and here.

Why do we wear poppies?

The poppy became synonymous with fallen soldiers during WWI since it was a common sight to see these flowers grow on top of the graves of those had been killed during the battles. After the publication of a John McCrae's poem In Flanders Fields — which he wrote on a scrap of paper after a friend of his died during WWI — the poppy began to be associated with memorials for fallen soldiers.

McCrae's poem inspired Madame Anna Guérin to sell fabric poppies to raise funds towards rebuilding parts of France after the war that were badly damaged due to the raging battles. This tradition and legacy has continued on to present day since proceeds from poppies primarily go towards veterans' support and programming. You can read more about the poppy here.

Why is The Last Post played at Remembrance Day ceremonies?

The Last Post is a bugle call that was historically played to signify the end of a working day for military personnel at a camp or base and was started by the British army in the 17th century. During an active battle, it would also be used to mark the end of fighting.

Since the 19th century, it has become more commonly associated with war remembrance and funerals for soldiers killed in battle. The call for the end of the day symbolically represents the end of a soldier's life and duties. You can read more about it here or watch the video below.



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