This is my 3rd and final post this week with a Remembrance Day theme.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day marking the end of World War I.
For a war that was so long ago, The Great War still plays heavily on the psyche of Canadians. This was not a war Canada chose to enter. At the time, our foreign affairs were dictated from England and when she declared war on Germany, the entire Commonwealth was dragged into it as well.
This year, special ceremonies have been occurring all week to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. These ceremonies will culminate tomorrow on Remembrance Day.
One of those ceremonies this week really touched me. It was held at a Toronto-based school called St Basil-the Great.
The students at St Basil planted hundreds and hundreds of small flags in front of the school in honour of those who died in service during World War I.
On each of those flags was the name of a Toronto-area resident who died in action during this war – one of the 60,000 Canadian casualties.
The weather this week has been miserably wet with blustery winds. I half-expected to find that the majority of flags would have been blown away. While many were missing, it was heartwarming to see that the vast majority were still there.
It seemed fitting that by the time I finished taking photographs, I was covered in mud. In spite of the freezing temperatures, the ground was still soft. It brought to mind the infamous muddy trenches of the front line.
Again, my family history is connected to The Great War.
When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on route to France in 1912, hundreds of thousands of young Belgians fled their country – many of them never returned.
One of those men was my maternal grandfather. He was a young teenager when he fled his home for the Netherlands where he would later meet the Dutch woman he would marry following the war.
Tomorrow I will be braving the cold to attend one of the many Remembrance Day ceremonies in the city. I will be honouring all those who fought to protect our freedom, those who served on the Homefront to support the troops far away, as well as all the members of my family who are no longer with us but have special ties to this day.
My hope is that we will always be grateful and that we will honour their sacrifice by speaking out against practices that deny freedom and peaceful coexistence for everyone.