Sunday marks the 100 year anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War.
The ceasefire was signed in November 1918 and news of the war’s end was quickly and widely celebrated throughout the British Empire.
World War One was known at the time as “the war to end all wars” and when the Germans finally surrendered, British Prime Minister Lloyd George optimistically stated, “I hope we can say that thus, this fateful morning, came an end to all wars.”
We celebrate Armistice Day, now known as Remembrance Day, to honour the brave men who fought and died to preserve our freedom and our way of life. This despite the sad truth that WWI — a devastating war that left some 40 million dead, including approximately 61,000 members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force — was far from the end of all war.
Less than two decades later, the world found itself engulfed in another catastrophic world war that required millions more to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop the spread of fascism and to protect freedom and democracy worldwide.
In 1921, the Royal British Legion created a campaign called the Poppy Appeal, based on John McCrae’s 1915 poem ‘In Flanders Fields,’ to raise money in support of injured veterans and their families.
The bright red poppy was seen as a symbol of inspiration; the blood-red wildflower grew in the French and Belgian fields that were ripped apart by tanks and artillery and devastated by human carnage during the war.
The poppy represented new life and hope.
My great-grandfather was killed in these fields in 1915, leaving behind his wife and young children in Vancouver, B.C.
The poppy lives on, as a small token of our appreciation to those who did not hesitate to risk everything to protect the things they loved the most.