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Remembering the Fallen and Those Who Served

It's November 11. Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day, depending on where you live.

Do people really remember what this day is for?

I hope they do. This is the day where we remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have fought to preserve our freedom. Those who have fallen in battle. Those who have given maybe not their lives but their health, their ability to live a good life. Or maybe just those who come through physically unscathed but have sacrificed the life they were living before. All to serve their country. All to protect us from those who would do us harm.

Some may not know that there is a reason that this day is commemorated on November 11.

This was the day the First World War ended.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, hostilities that had been going on for four years in Europe (and elsewhere around the world, though not as intensely) ceased. The bloodshed stopped, at least for the time being. That war was called the "War to End All Wars," because it was thought that no human being would willingly go through the horror that World War I inflicted on the lives of millions of people.

Unfortunately, they were wrong.

In November of 1919, Remembrance Day was dedicated by the British King George V, to be observed throughout the British Commonwealth. Separately, Woodrow Wilson declared that it be celebrated in the United States.

The symbol of Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth, the poppy, was inspired by Canadian Lt. Col. John MacCrae's poem "In Flanders Field," where the poppy imagery is very prevalent.

In 1953, the US changed the name from Remembrance Day to Veterans Day, to celebrate all veterans, not just World War I. While the name hasn't changed in all of the Commonwealth countries, the celebration itself has also become one of all military personnel.

To some, Remembrance Day is just another day off of work or school (except in certain Canadian provinces), and businesses don't necessarily close in the US either. Just like Memorial Day, I sometimes feel the meaning of these days has been lost. Memorial Day has become a day of picnics, cook-outs and family get-togethers. Remembrance Day doesn't even have that.

We should always remember and honour those who have fought and died for our country.

But on this day, please make the extra effort to do so.

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