From July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918, the world faced a global war that originated from Europe and was named the “Great War” or the “war to end all wars”.
It was also the First World War (World War 1 or WWI) that saw the mobilization of more than 70 million military personnel and 60 million Europeans.
For the millions of men and women who have enlisted in the Great War, many have lost their lives committed and dedicated to fighting for their cause.
As the war waged on into its third year in 1917, the Allied nations of Great Britain and France have been exhausted by the war with many casualties and lives lost including civilians and from military forces. At this time, on April 2, 1917, U.S President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany announcing America must join the fight “…to make the world safe for democracy”.
A year later after with intervention from America, Allied forces eventually sealed the decisive victories needed to end the First World War.
After four years, three months, and two weeks of war, an armistice was signed by nations involved in the war, resulting in a cease-fire. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended.
In a novel by Joseph E. Persico, an author and American military historian, he described the end of the war as a chilling closure:
“The last day of the war provided chilling closure. The ending, in its ferocity, bloodiness, and uselessness, contained the entire war in microcosm. The fighting went on for the hollowest of reasons: no one knew how to stop it.”
― Joseph E. Persico, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918
According to historians, it was one of the largest wars in history and unfortunately also one of the deadliest conflicts in history. During the global war that lasted over four years, it is estimated 9 million combatants have fallen, 21 million combatants wounded, an additional 13 million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, and millions or more lives lost due to consequences of war such as disease, and starvation.
The impacts of the war have been imprinted in the lives of many around the world including John McCrae, a Canadian poet, soldier and physician.
In Mr. McCrae’s well-known poem “In Flanders Field”, the poppy flower became the Flower of Remembrance for the British as well as Canadians.
The poem has also is an iconic piece of literature that reminds us of the men and women who served and gave their lives to fight for peace and our country.
Remembrance Day: November 11
Today, the Armistice that halted the War to End All Wars on November 11, is known as Remembrance Day in Canada and most of Europe.
Remembrance Day has become a day for all Canadians to remember the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for the peace of our country. It is a day where Canadians are encouraged to pause and give thanks and to remember.
Every year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Canadians have gathered at memorial parks, community halls, workplaces, schools and homes to stand in a minute of silence in honour of all those who have fallen.
Additionally, throughout November, The Royal Canadian Legion raises money and accepts donations in support of veterans and their families through their annual Poppy campaign.
Poppies of bright red and black, which are a symbol of remembrance, can be seen pinned on the clothing of Canadians throughout November as a way to show their appreciation for those who have served in conflicts around the world.
Through these initiatives and simple sign of respect, Canadians can honour and remember all the fallen veterans and help ensure we never forget the tragedies of global conflict.
On this Remembrance Day, take a moment to reflect on the freedoms and peace in your life and remember the courageous men and women who served and sacrificed it all for what we have today.
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