View From the Legislature

A Day of Remembrance

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

Every November 11th Canadians are encouraged to pause and to remember. They are asked to remember those that have served Canada and to do so with gratitude for the many freedoms and opportunities that sacrifice has given us as Canadians.

The Steinbach Legion, Branch #190, is actively involved in organizing the local Remembrance Day ceremony. More than just a single day however, their efforts help to lead the annual Poppy Campaign which begins at the end of October to raises money for the benefit of our local communities. There are many who are involved in ensuring that local residents are able to attend and benefit from Remembrance Day. In addition to local Legion members, there is assistance from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Air Cadets, Scouts and Guides and many others.

Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 (then known as Armistice Day) throughout the British Commonwealth. It helped to commemorate the end of the First World War which concluded on Monday, November 11, 1919 at 11 a.m. The moment of silence which is observed at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day is in honour of the more than 2 million Canadians who have served Canada and the nearly 120,000 who lost their lives in that service.

For many years, there was a concern that as we lost veterans from World War I and World War II that Remembrance Day ceremonies would begin to become smaller and less relevant. It was felt that while the ceremony that is held in Ottawa at the National War Memorial would continue to be a focal point, smaller communities would lose their connection to the sacrifices that have been made as less and less veterans were there to participate in the ceremonies.

And yet, we have seen over the past decade that local Remembrance Day ceremonies not only continue to be well attended, many have grown as there has been a renewed appreciation for the many privileges we have as Canadians. In Manitoba, many schools have undertaken special ceremonies to both honour veterans and educate students. Part of that education involves understanding that there are many countries around the world that also remember the great contribution of Canadians and who still to this day honour Canadians as heroes even though they are an ocean away. I have had the opportunity to meet with many dignitaries from these countries and their appreciation is genuine and real.

On this Remembrance Day let us take the time to remember and to be thankful for all that we have as Canadians. There are many Canadians to which we owe a great gratitude and who should never be forgotten.