Each year on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, people across Canada observe two minutes of silence to pay tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives in military service for Canada.
The timing is significant because in 1918, the 11th hour of the 11th month marked the official end to World War I - the war to end all wars.
Wear the Flower of Remembrance: the Poppy.
Since 1921, the Poppy has stood as symbol to never forget all those Canadians who have fallen in war. The Poppy also stands internationally as a “symbol of collective reminiscence”, as other countries have also adopted its image to honour those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
At 11 o'clock in the morning on November 11, show your respect by observing two minutes of silence. This moment of quiet provides an opportunity to reflect on those that gave their life for their country. It is both an honour and a privilege to remember our fallen soldiers.
Why the poppy?
The association between the poppy and war dates back to the Napoleonic wars, when a writer saw a field of poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers.
During the Battle of Ypres in 1915, Canadian Lt.-Col. John McCrae was inspired to write the poem In Flanders Fields on sighting the poppies growing beside a grave of a close friend who had died in battle.
The poem was a great inspiration in adopting the poppy as the Flower of Remembrance in Canada, France, the U.S, Britain and Commonwealth countries.
The first poppies were distributed in Canada in 1921.
Today the volunteer donations from the distribution of millions of poppies is an important source of revenue for the Royal Canadian Legion that goes toward helping ex-servicemen and women buy food, and obtain shelter and medical attention.
I have been very lucky to meet a wonderful lady on the internet who has helped me with my geneology hunt. She is a beautiful poet and has allowed me to share these two poems with you. I'm sure it will bring many memories back for some.
The Union Jack
The War raged through our Childhood,From that September day in Thirty NineAnd even though the Bombs were far awayWe felt connected to our time.
For everywhere we saw the EffortAnd were reminded we must CareThat many Daddies, Sons and BrothersWere fighting “Over There”.
Our connection to the MotherlandWas evident, for weKnew the Union Jack flew overhead,From Sea to shining Sea
And as we walked the path to school,A shiny star would tell us where,A home had sent a Soldier,And a Daddy wasn’t there.
We learned to be real ThriftyMake do with what we hadAnd ration books were issuedFor to waste was Very Bad.
Each month the stamps were issued,For each person in the HouseFor Sugar, Meat and Butter,Tea and Coffee for each spouse.
So when you went out Shopping,You took along your Ration BookIf you used all your Stamps up one day,Next day - you’d get no meat to cook..!
You spread your butter very thin,You had to make it last.Or you’d be eating dry bread,Before the month had passed...!
We understood the Effort,We knew we had to share,We knew that things were much worse,For children living “Over There”.
And so we saved our dripping fat,And spread it on our toast.We were told we must be gratefulFor we had much more than most.
For tiny tots in London,Were taken from their BedsAnd rushed into a Shelter,As bombs flew overhead.
And we were reminded Fruit & Produce,Were limited to our Shores,If they didn’t grow in Canada,They were not available in our Stores.
As Farmers too, had gone to fight,No one to tend the Wheat....We were told to Plant a Garden,If we wanted more to eat....
So even in the City,Every Vacant plot of land,Was turned into a Victory Garden,And everybody, turned a hand.
For those who couldn’t go to Fight,The message was quite clearEvery effort would be made to helpFrom all the folk back here.
We saved every scrap of paper,Turned our Envelopes inside out,And waved the Union Jack on highAnd “V” for Victory - we would shout.
It was a concerned effort,And every School Child knew,That so much was being done for us,By our Soldiers, Bold and True
To keep our Homeland safe from harm,And to bring each Daddy back,So the Flag that flew for Canada,Would always be - “The Union Jack”.
byBarbara Ruth NeishWritten - October 1995
The Eleventh Hour
And all the country stood in silence,
As the clock tolled the Eleventh bell,
To remember countless men and women,
Who, so bravely served - and fought - and fell
To save our land from tyranny
They had left their home and kin,
To travel 'cross the wide, wide sea,
And join amid, the turmoil in the din.
And now, on the Eleventh day, each November,
The day when Poppies bloom once more,
I think upon my childhood years,
And growing up, in times of war.
How on the Eleventh Day,in the Eleventh Month,
When church bells recalled the Eleventh Hour,
The world fell silent - and remembered,
Those times - so grim and dour.
“Oh God our Help in Ages Past”,
We sang, amid our tears,
And saw the Poppies blowing brave,
Between the crosses ‘through the years.
And as the bugle sounded,
And “The Last Post”, cut our hearts in two,
So proudly flew the Union Jack,
So Red - so White - so Blue.
Barbara Ruth Neish