LEST WE FORGET, 11.11.19
NOVEMBER 11, Remembrance Day originally known as Armistice Day, “is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Wikipedia
Date: Monday, November 11, 2019” (https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&channel=mac_bm&source=hp&ei=2anIXfu1DIPC0PEPx72koAY&q=armistice+day+canada&oq=Armistice&gs_l=psy-ab.1.2.0i131l5j0i3j0j0i3j0i131j0.2599.4533..6737…0.0..0.137.784.9j1……0….1..gws-wiz…..0.sUBVW-pVZJg).
Lest we forget, let us pay tribute to the men and women who have served our country willingly, unflinchingly, with courage and selfless love.
CANADA, a fledgling nation in WWI, yet we did our part. It was upon the heals of WWI that John McCrae published the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” a poem that most in my generation memorized in school many years ago; a poem honoured and well known, still, and may it so remain.
“The Canadian government has placed a memorial to John McCrae that features “In Flanders Fields” at the site of the dressing station which sits beside the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Essex Farm Cemetery. The Belgian government has named this site the “John McCrae Memorial Site” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCrae ).
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead, short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
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.
“Though various legends have developed as to the inspiration for the poem, the most commonly held belief is that McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, the day after presiding over the funeral and burial of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who had been killed during the Second Battle of Ypres. The poem was written as he sat upon the back of a medical field ambulance near an advance dressing post at Essex Farm, just north of Ypres. The poppy, which was a central feature of the poem, grew in great numbers in the spoiled earth of the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCrae ).
There have been multiples of renditions of this poem, both in song and in recitation. One of my personal favourites is Leonard Cohen’s version. Watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKoJvHcMLfc.
The “Battle of Vimy Ridge” was “a particularly important tactical feature. Its capture by the Canadians was essential to the advances by the British Third Army to the south and of exceptional importance to checking the German attacks in the area in 1918.
The Canadians had demonstrated they were one of the outstanding formations on the Western Front and masters of offensive warfare” (https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/overseas/first-world-war/france/vimy/battle ). Many more details can be found on Vimy Ridge on the many documentaries, YouTube videos, and other websites, more than what can be covered here.
World War II saw another level of Canadian involvement. It is a tribute to us that the following site, being American, gives the following credit: “Canada, of its own free will, entered the war in September 1939 because it then realized that Nazi Germany threatened the very existence of Western civilization.
Almost from the beginning Canadians were in the thick of the fighting—in the air. In that element the Dominion made its most striking contribution to the general war effort. On the outbreak of hostilities, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was established in Canada to develop the air forces of Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as of Canada. It was under the direction of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and it cost the Canadian government well over 1.5 billion dollars.
Here it may be well to note that Canada’s population is only about one-eleventh that of our country. We have to multiply Canadian figures by eleven, therefore, to get the approximate American equivalent of Canada’s war effort.
By 1944, the Royal Canadian Air Force had a strength of more than 200,000. This was only a part of what Canada did in this line, for at the same time nearly half the ground crew personnel and more than a quarter of the air crew strength of the Royal Air Force were also Canadians” (https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/em-47-canada-our-oldest-good-neighbor-(1946)/what-was-canadas-role-in-world-war-ii) . For a summary of specific battles Canada played a major role in during World War II, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/defence/caf/militaryhistory/wars-operations/wwii/battles-campaigns.html.
Visit link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Canada for a complete summary of all other involvements, including the many peace-keeping forces, and supportive roles played by Canadian Forces, in alignment with U.S. Military, and U.N. Peace-Keeping Missionsl, such as the involvement in Somalia. Large contributions and losses in the Korean War, and the recent contribution to Afghanistan War, where many young lives have not only been lost but greatly affected.
Canada has been a major contributor in Peace-Keeping and held its own when called to War. Let us honour those who have contributed, lest we forget where our freedom comes from, and take for granted what we have.
© 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
“Leonard Cohen recites “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae | Legion Magazine, Oct 22, 2015,
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