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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rembrance Day How Will You Remember?

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service .At public gatherings in Ottawa, and around the country, Canadians pay tribute with two minutes of silence to the country's fallen soldiers from the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and peacekeeping missions.

Why November 11th? 

Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I fighting on November 11, 1918. World War 1 was a massive conflict played out over the whole globe, but particularly in Europe, where troops from Canada supported the Allied forces.

World War I resulted in the loss of huge numbers of lives among  both civilians and military personnel. Many more people were badly injured. The war left great emotional scars in the servicemen, who had experienced it, and in the communities, whose sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and even grandfathers had died. Remembrance Day commemorates those who died in armed conflicts, particularly in and since World War I.


Symbols of Remembrance Day include the red poppy, which Canadians wear during the month of November and use on wreaths placed at war memorials on November 11th.

Other symbols of Remembrance Day are the war memorials, which are often near the geographical center of communities. These commemorate members of the community, who have died in military action. A particularly well-known memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario. The military parades held on November 11 are also symbolic of Remembrance Day.

Why Do We Forget?    

Although it is important for Canadians to take time out of their day to remember the men and women who died in war, many do not. Instead, they simply proceed as if Remembrance Day were just another holiday in which they can get a break from work or school.

A statement from Veterans Affairs says it all.

 " As most people in Canada today have never experienced war, "Remembrance" becomes a challenging concept to incorporate. How do you remember what you haven't known?

Some people have been fortunate to have had relatives; grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-grand parents, who shared their stories of war and peace. Others, our newer Canadians, have sought Canada as a new home, safe from their own war-torn motherlands. We have all studied some Canadian history in schools. But the vast majority of us, especially the youth, have no first hand or even second hand knowledge of war. And thankfully so.

But we CAN come to understand and appreciate what those who have served Canada in times of war, armed conflict and peace stand for and what they have sacrificed for their country. Today more than ever, as we witness the coffins and grieving families of the men and women serving in Afghanistan this is truer than ever.

We live in a wonderful country, full of opportunities and freedoms we often take for granted. You can be sure that Canadian Veterans do not take our situation for granted. Young men and women sacrificed all they knew, all the comforts, love and safety of home in order to defend the rights and freedoms of others. Some returned with permanent physical and emotional scars, bound to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Others never returned.

Veterans know the price paid for our freedom and they want all Canadians to share in this understanding. In fact, now, more than ever, they are passing the torch of remembrance to us, to the people of Canada, to ensure that the memory of their efforts and sacrifices will not die with them, and that an appreciation of the values they fought for will live on in all Canadians.Canadians have a reputation of being a peace loving nation, and this has been demonstrated time and time again when we have engaged in combat and peacekeeping operations for the sake of protecting humans rights, freedom and justice around the world. When you think of Canadian efforts in war and peace you come to realize that our desire to help was never motivated by greed, power or threats. It was in and of itself, a desire to protect human rights, all humans' rights.

Why Should We Remember?

So, although many of us cannot actually "remember," we owe it to those who have served to learn, to understand, and to appreciate the task they have undertaken. Generations of Canadian Veterans,have served this nation from the First World War through current missions.They step forward in our time of greatest need — because they believe in peace and security around the world. They have left their villages and cities, their farms and fishing communities, to make a difference. And they did. And today's service men and women are carrying on the tradition  If we can understand this, how can we not pause and say "thank you" in remembrance of such an accomplishment?



Attending Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11 is the best-known way that we can publicly honour the men and women who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace. In addition, there are many other ways that we can show throughout the year that we care about the sacrifices and achievements of these one and a half million brave Canadians who served, and continue to serve, our country at home and abroad.
Remembering can take many forms: music, ceremonies, poetry, private reflection, discussion, art and shared memories from those who took part in protecting peace and freedom worldwide. In the following pages, you'll find 50 different ways that individuals and groups can share the importance of Remembrance.
More than 110,000 men and women died so that we may live in peace and freedom today. Taking an active role to remember these people, along with the Veterans who experienced the hardships of war, military conflict and peace efforts, is one way of saying "thank you."

What does this have to do with learning English?  
Learning English is much more than learning a language. It is learning about  the culture  of the country you live in, or want to communicate with. It is learning abouot values and ideals as well as behaviour and methods of communication.

Regardless of where Canadian immigrants, or international students come from, they too
have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of men and women who gave their lives for their country. Although Canada's November 11th Remembrance Day may not be the day in which immigrants or international students remember their own war dead,  I'm positive they do have a a special Memorial or Remembrance Day of their own. Given that they are now in Canada, why not choose this day as a day to remember and honour their own war dead at the same time as Canadians do? What better way to pay tribute to their own, while integrating into a community they have chosen to live in.  

Please let me know what you think about this issue? Should we stop and remember, or should we simply say that all war is bad, and those who died at war wasted their time and don't deserve our gratitude, or our memory.  Leave a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. When I was young, every evening when I went to bed, my father would sit down beside me, on an old wooden chair, use his big, warm hands and slowly and gently pat my back in order to comfort me, so that I could fall asleep quickly. Meanwhile, I would listen to his softly told stories. Sometimes the stories were fables or fairy tale, but most of the time, they were real stories that he had experienced or had happened in his army during Anti-Japanese War(1937-1945). At that time, he was header and responsible for his troop. The people involved in his real stories were soldiers and also were his friends. Some of those who had died or had been injured while carrying out their missions. At the moment told me the stories, I was so young that could not understand how much suffering my father had endured while he was telling those miserable stories to me. Of course, I couldn’t understand how much he had suffered each times when he was facing the death of his friends.

    Every April 5th in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, a special memorial day for the dead, our family went to the martyr's cemetery to commemorate the people who sacrificed their lives for peace, and our country. After becoming an adult, I can understand my father’s feelings when facing the death of his soldiers and friends again and again. I have even seen that, his eyes were full of tears. even after more than 50 years, while he was telling the story about the death of his 16 year old guard,, a yang man whose mission was assure my father’s safety, in 1943.

    After I moved to Canada, I changed my memorial day to November 11th. Every November 11th, I go to Victory Square in Vancouver to honor those who severed or continue to serve Canada as well as my motherland, China.

    Although Canada and China choose different dates to commemorate the people who had contributed their lives to their countries, their meanings are same. Yes, we should remember them. In China, we had a lot of poems for remembering those who had contributed their lives to our country, but in Canada I prefer the poem < In Flanders Fields>, was written by John McCrae.


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