To Remember

Written by: Sam Hancock

Remembrance Day takes place on November 11 every year, when we take a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. This was originally done to honour the end of the “war to end all wars”, World War I. Unfortunately, peace didn’t last, and World War II was fought, followed by several international conflicts since.

Originally called Armistice Day to celebrate the official end of World War I on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m., Remembrance Day has become a day to honour all those who have fought and those who continue to fight for freedom across the world.

A common concern as the generations who fought pass away is “what will Remembrance Day mean for our children?” Yet, in a recent Global News poll, millennials have been leading a resurgence in Remembrance Day ceremonies. (Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/3845268/remembrance-day-ceremonies-millenials/)

Encouraging news, because today more than ever, it seems we need to be reminded that the two greatest conflicts of the early half of the last century were fought to stop fascists, Nazis and other tyrannical despots from curtailing the freedoms of various cultures, religions and nations.

We asked ECOH staff to share why they celebrate Remembrance Day. Here are four stories…

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For Charlene McManus, Remembrance Day is a time to cherish how the McManus clan got their start. Her grandfather Charles (Charlie) McManus served during World War 2. He signed up with his brother Jack at the Elora Catholic Church along with other locals who were enlisting to fight for Canada and England. While Jack served in the Navy, Charlie was stationed as a cook in England when he met his wife Alice. She was serving as a radar detector for the Scotland Army. Romance can bloom anywhere, even during wartime.

Remembrance Day is also a time to cherish family for Rob Lovegrove, who had relatives who served in both World Wars. His grandfather drove tanks in WW1, where he was blinded by a gas attack. Rob’s wife’s great uncle was killed at the age of 17 during the battle of Vimy Ridge. Rob’s other grandfather fought for the British Army in WW2 in North Africa and Italy. Both of Rob’s parents were living in London during WW2 and were forced to evacuate and stay with families in Wales. While these evacuations were meant with good intentions, some of the children sent to live on farms in the country-side were treated as indentured servants. One of Rob’s uncles ran back to London to face the bombs rather than keep living on a farm.

Craig Maunder’s great uncle, Major John Arthur Willis of the Essex Scottish Regiment, 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, served our country in WW2. Major Willis died at age 38 during Operation Jubilee (Dieppe Raid). While the raid was an Allied disaster, resulting in the death, wounding or capture of 3,623 Canadian, British and US troops, it is also widely regarded as having identified fundamental flaws in the amphibious invasion tactics of the time.  The lessons learned at Dieppe, while at great cost, are thought to have profoundly shaped the planning of the Normandy invasions and allowed those later invasions to succeed.  “It makes me proud,” says Craig, “to know his sacrifice was not in vain.”

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My grandfather served in WW2 but never spoke of his experiences overseas. Whatever happened to him, he kept it to himself as if the war never happened. To me, that is why Remembrance Day is so important – to let veterans who served know that while we can’t possibly know what they went through, we value and appreciate the freedoms they fought so valiantly to preserve.

My eight-year old daughter attended her first Remembrance Day parade last year as a Brownie. She is proud to be able to honour her great-grandfather and all the veterans and current members of our armed forces.

Remembrance Day – what does it mean to you?