have passed since they laid down their arms
It is as important as ever for Canadians to always remember the fallen who gave so valiantly protecting our country. One century ago, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, following the signing of the armistice a few hours earlier, the ceasefire for World War I went into effect.
It was the 'war to end all wars', the Great War, and it's effects impacted people across the globe. More than 70 million military personnel, most from European countries were involved in combat and nine million of those soldiers, plus seven million civilians died. More than 600,000 Canadians enlisted (619,636 to be exact). Of these, 59,544 died during the war.
And despite the incredible losses suffered, WW I (1914-1918) was not the war to end all wars. Many more conflicts have erupted around the world over the last century in which Canadian soldiers participated, including World War II from 1939 to 1945, the Korean War (1950-53), Persian Gulf War (1990-91), and the Afghanistan War (2001-14).
One year after the signing of the armistice, it was King George V of the United Kingdom who would start commemorating the end of World War I with a ceremony of remembrance.
The Royal Canadian Legion, as it is known today, was formally established in 1926 and every year, hold Remembrance Day services to honour the many men and women who have served and fallen over the past 100 years. Their mission is to serve veterans, including military and RCMP members and their families, promote Remembrance, and to serve their communities and country. They advocate for the care and benefits for all who served Canada, regardless of when or where they served. They also provide representation and assistance to veterans, including currently serving Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, their families, services available to them at no cost.
The Redcliff branch of the Royal Canadian Legion holds their Remembrance Day service each year in the gymnasium at Parkside School, with the with the laying of the wreaths following at the adjacent Royal
Canadian Legion Memorial Park.
Redcliff Legion president, Barry
Cole said this year's service may be the final year for it to be held at Parkside
"It may be the last year for the service to be held at Parkside," said Cole. "We've been in talks with the Town for the past couple years to hold it in the arena (Redcliff Rec-Tangle). The only trouble is that there is a hockey tournament that weekend.
With Remembrance Day falling on weekdays for the next few years, there will be no conflict for the time being.
"Now, we've got five years to see about getting them to use the arena," he added.
At the park for the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph, a heated tent will be available for elderly people taking in the ceremony. Cole, who spent 22 years with REME (Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) of the British Army, primarily in Paderborn and Osnabruck, said it is important for young people to learn about the significance of Remembrance Day. Redcliff has only two WWII veterans left to tell their stories, George Hope and Winston Jobb, so it is vital for parents, grandparents, and teachers, as well as the Royal Canadian Legion, to educate today's generation so this important piece of history is not lost.
The Legion provides education through Remembrance Day ceremonies, Poppy campaign, commemorative activities, and youth education programs such as their national poster and literary contests.
In Foremost, Paul Leighton (retired principal, teaching part-time) and teacher Jay Diemert are both active members of the local Legion and ensure the students gain knowledge about past wars and the importance of remembering our serving and fallen soldiers, peacekeepers, and RCMP members.
"Jay has been really active with it, especially with the Grade 6 students. He had them coordinate the school service, with involvement from the Legion and we always have young people lay wreaths at the community service," said Leighton. "In the past, I always tried to involve the kids with the Dominion poster contest and the writing contest."
"It has been 100 years since the end of World War I and we are running out of WW II vets. We will have to teach our young people or we will lose sight of the history. If we do that, we lose sight of our freedom," Leighton added.
As this year's Remembrance Day service commemorates 100 years since the end of World War I, Legions and communities across Canada, Redcliff and Foremost included, will be participating in the Bells of Peace, the ringing of 100 bells. The Bells of Peace recognizes the moment at the end of WWI when church bells across Europe tolled. The tolling of the bells is to take place at the setting of the sun.
Leighton said the churches in Foremost will be tolling their bells at 5 pm.
"At the setting of the sun, bells across the country will be tolling 100 times. It's an initiative across Canada. At 5 pm, the bells will toll," he said.
The Royal Canadian Legion encourages people who hear the bells toll on Nov. 11, to take a moment to pause and remember the 650,000 who served, close to 66,000 killed, and more than 172,000 wounded in WWI.