--Daniel A Betts--
This article is geared towards enlightening those new to developed countries like Canada, those who are too young to have firmly grasped what the heck "Armistice Day (Remembrance Day)" is all about, or those who simply were never clear on what the big deal is. Armistace Day is one of the most important 10 days and 11 hours of the year for citizens in developed countries. It is the reason for social liberties, caring for ones' fellow man regardless of race creed or colour, and for working towards a shared righteous goal for the benefit of all just people.
On Sunday, June 28th 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria - heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary - was assassinated by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. (Bosnia) A diplomatic crisis ensued, and within weeks major world powers were at war, and the conflict spread across the globe. Two opposed alliances formed, with The Allies consisting of the Russian Empire, the French Third Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. (Canada was a British Commonwealth until 1931) Opposing us were the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. IMPORTANT NOTE: While Italy was a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary, they never did join the Central Powers. Italy, Japan and the USA eventually joined the existing Allied forces.
The First World War/The Great War/The War To End All Wars was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, extinguishing the lives of over 9 million soldiers and over 7 million civilians in totality. These numbers to not account for lives ruined and altered in a traumatic manner akin to being nearly extinguished. It lasted until the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 2018, when all arms were all completely laid to rest. World War One (WW1) paved the way for many political changes worldwide, and rivalries still existing at the conclusion of WW1 contributed to the beginning of the Second World War (WW2) a mere 21 years later. The Great Grandfather of the author of this article served in both world wars, until he was laid to rest a month before his 80th birthday. This author was a pallbearer at his funeral, at age 14.
In 1919, King George the 5th proclaimed the final day of WW1 - November 11th 1918 - "Armistice Day", and countries worldwide have traditionally shown their respect for the fallen soldiers with a moment of silence at 11 AM on the 11th day of the 11th month. The anniversary of the day WW1 ended. The Poppy was immortalized as a symbol of this remembrance through poems such as "In Flounders Fields" (by Lieut. Col. John McCrae, May 3rd 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, Belgium) It is generally viewed in bad taste to not take a minute of silence at 11 AM on November 11th, and seen as disrespectful by many if a poppy is worn anywhere other than over the heart or worn anytime before November 1st or after November 11th at 11 AM.
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
Armistice (Remembrance) Day, Toronto Old City Hall Cenotaph, 2017Photo by (c) 2017 Daniel A Betts Armistice (Remembrance) Day, Planes Fly Above Toronto Old City Hall Cenotaph, 2017Photo by (c) 2017 Daniel A Betts