100th an­niver­sary of end of first global strug­gle

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - JANE STEVENSON jsteven­son@post­media.com twit­ter.com/JaneCSteven­son

This year’s Re­mem­brance Day will have a lot more pomp and cir­cum­stance than usual given 2018 marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War.

Cana­dian War Mu­seum his­to­rian Tim Cook says one of the big ar­eas of in­ter­est for Canada this year over­seas will be in Mons, Bel­gium, where both dig­ni­taries and vet­er­ans will gather.

In­cluded among the Mons com­mem­o­ra­tions is a new me­mo­rial ded­i­ca­tion to Pte. Ge­orge Price, a Cana­dian sol­dier shot min­utes be­fore the First World War Ar­mistice.

“(Mons is) the city that the Cana­dian corps cap­tured on the last day of the war,” said Cook, who has also co-cu­rated Vic­tory 1918 — The Last 100 Days at the mu­seum in Ot­tawa run­ning un­til March 31.

“And it’s a sym­bolic city and that’s where the ma­jor over­seas com­mem­o­ra­tions are be­ing held this year. But there will also be cer­e­monies held across (Canada) and I’m in­volved in the na­tional broad­cast from the na­tional mon­u­ment (in Ot­tawa).”

Back in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion or­ga­nizes the Na­tional Re­mem­brance Day Cer­e­mony at the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial in Ot­tawa from 9 a.m. un­til noon.

At 10:30 a.m., a vet­er­ans pa­rade leaves Par­lia­ment Hill and makes its way to the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial fol­lowed by the ar­rival of dig­ni­taries (the prime min­is­ter will be in Paris on Nov. 11 to at­tend com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­monies and was sched­uled to visit Vimy Ridge the day be­fore), the per­for­mance of the na­tional an­them, two min­utes of si­lence, a wreath­lay­ing cer­e­mony and a fly past (weather per­mit­ting).

“This year, I think, will be quite sig­nif­i­cant,” said Cook. “Over the last 10, 15, 20 years we’ve seen an up­surge in the num­ber of peo­ple who come out to the Na­tional Cer­e­mony and I as­sume across the coun­try. And I find that in­ter­est­ing as we’ve lost all of the First World War vet­er­ans and now we are on the verge of los­ing all our Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans. There seems to be this surge in in­ter­est and that may be linked to that fact that we’re see­ing the pass­ing of a gen­er­a­tion.”

In Toronto, Premier Doug Ford will be among those ob­serv­ing a mo­ment of si­lence at 11 a.m. dur­ing the Queen’s Park Cer­e­mony of Re­mem­brance in front of the leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly.

Through­out the city there are sev­eral lo­ca­tions for Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­monies in­clud­ing Old City Hall, the East York, Eto­bi­coke, North York and York Civic Cen­tres, and Fort York Na­tional His­toric Site.

Start­ing at 10:15 a.m., a Cana­dian Armed Forces pa­rade will head north from Union Sta­tion up Univer­sity Ave. to Queen’s Park be­fore head­ing to Old City Hall, where Toronto Mayor John Tory will be in at­ten­dance.

Ear­lier this week, Tory ded­i­cated a book of re­mem­brance to the 3,200 mem­bers of Toronto-based reg­i­ments who gave their lives dur­ing the First World War and it will be on dis­play Sun­day in the City Hall ro­tunda be­fore it moves to Toronto Ar­chives af­ter­ward.

“One of the things that made the First World War and the Sec­ond World War so im­por­tant to our his­tory is how al­most ev­ery­one was in­volved,” said Cook.

“I mean 620,000 Cana­di­ans who served in the First World War and 1.1 mil­lion who served in the Sec­ond World War. Our so­ci­ety was for­ever changed by these wars, and frankly that’s why we’re still talk­ing about this 100 years later I sus­pect. Or in the case of the Sec­ond World War, 75 years later," he said.

“We cre­ated a vast fight­ing force that fought through the key bat­tles of Vimy (Ridge) and Hill 70 and Pass­chen­daele and the 100 Days Cam­paign. So, that’s one of those fas­ci­nat­ing things about the two world wars is that we cre­ated these enor­mous fight­ing forces in times of tremen­dous stress and strain and we fought and we suf­fered ca­su­al­ties but we de­liv­ered vic­tory,” he con­tin­ued.

Cana­dian losses were tal­lied at 66,000 in the First World War and about 45,000 in the Sec­ond World War. But it was the First World War that was called “the war to end all wars.”

“It’s a strange phrase ’cause it’s not an of­fi­cial one in any way and the Ger­mans don’t say that and the French don’t say that,” Cook said.

“It’s a phrase that emerges in the af­ter­math of the war and it’s a phrase that I think speaks to the enor­mity of the war and the hor­ren­dous ca­su­al­ties and the ti­tanic ef­fects of the war — four em­pires de­stroyed and the Rus­sians and the Ger­mans and the Aus­tri­ans and the Hun­gar­i­ans all col­lapsed un­der the strain of war and the rise of com­mu­nism.

“It’s all part of this war, so there was a sense that this was the last war,” con­tin­ued Cook.

“That it was so hor­ri­ble that we would never fight an­other one. And we now look back with a sense of sad irony and we know that in the ashes of the First World War, as peo­ple were say­ing, lay those em­bers that will al­low for the rise of fas­cism and other things that will lead to the Sec­ond World War.”


A Cana­dian sol­dier looks at the grave of First World War sol­dier Ge­orge Lawrence Price, in­set at the St. Sym­phorien ceme­tery yes­ter­day in Mons, Bel­gium.

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