100 years have passed since they laid down their arms

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Alberta - BY JAMIE RIEGER — JRIEGER@PRAIRIEPOST.COM

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.

Barry Cole, Red­cliff Le­gion pres­i­dent, said this year's ser­vice may be the fi­nal year for it to be held at Park­side School.

"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 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 p.m., 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.

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