Each year leading up to November 11, Canadians across the country wear a Poppy to remember the sacrifices of our Veterans.
Three years ago Canada’s last known First World War Veteran, John Babcock died at age of 109. With his passing, some have argued, the inspiration for Remembrance Day lost some of its inspiration. But the Legion’s mission to perpetuate Remembrance on November 11th has never wavered.
It has not wavered because Remembrance Day is the Day the Legion and a grateful nation remembers all of Canada’s fallen in ALL Wars because the fallen or injured of yesteryear are just as relevant and significant as the losses of today.
Indeed the War of 1812-15, which has been commemorated recently by the federal government, put this country at its greatest risk when American troops invaded our fledgling nation.
The Battle of Stoney Creek (June 1813), many have argued, convinced the Americans to abandon any serious attempt at a full scale invasion of Upper Canada.
The South African War (1899-1902)
The South African War represented the first large group of Canadian soldiers to serve overseas in a combat role. Canadian troops particularly distinguished themselves at Paardeberg (February 1900), and the Leliefontein Farm (November 1900). It ended with the Treaty of Vereeniging that was signed on 31 May 1902. Some 7,000 Canadians – including 12 nursing sisters – served of which some 267 were killed.
For the first time in its history, Canadian forces fought as a distinct unit, first under a British commander and then under a Canadian-born commander. The highpoints of Canadian military achievement during the First World War came during the Somme, Vimy, and Passchendaele battles. World War One ended on 11 November 1918. Approximately 620,000 Canadians served in uniform of which 67,000 were killed and another 173,000 were wounded.
Canada’s War effort during WWII was more extensive than in the First World War and many would argue it had a more lasting impact on Canadian Society. It was the country’s first independent declaration of War. During WWII more than 1,000,000 Canadians served in the military and some 42,000 were killed. By the war’s end, Canada would also possess the fourth-largest air force and third-largest naval surface fleet in the world.
The Korean conflict saw some 27,000 Canadians serve their country overseas in Korea until the armistice was signed on 27 July, 1953. There were approximately 516 Canadian military personnel killed during this conflict.
Peace Support Operations (1948 – present)
Following the War in Korea, Canada has deployed tens of thousands of troops on various Peace Support Operations and more than 110 Canadian peacekeepers have died overseas on these operations.
And we need very little reminding about our recent role in the War in Afghanistan where more than 150 soldiers have been killed and the exact number of wounded are still being counted.
In all, more than 110,000 Canadians have selflessly paid the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country and ALL are just as worthy of our gratitude for those who, at the call of their country, left all that was dear to them, faced danger and, much too often, passed out of sight of all Canadians through their self-sacrifice giving up their lives so that others may live in freedom and be proud to be Canadian!
But Remembrance Day is more than just a debt to Canada’s Fallen Heroes. It is also a duty to the living! Indeed, while the number of our Fallen Heroes is relatively easy to count, the same may not be said about the number of Canadian Veterans that have come back broken either physically, mentally or both during these same conflicts.
Whether World War One, World War Two, Korea, the many peace support operations and the recent war in Afghanistan, Canada’s military survivors may take comfort in our efforts to Remember and not to fear that their sacrifices will have been in vain.
For these reasons, Remembrance, as symbolized by the Poppy symbol, remains our eternal answer to that fear. Not only do some 18 million Canadians show their support for our Veterans by wearing the Poppy, but through the generosity of Canadians we are able to give back some $14 million to Veterans in need who may not have the financial ability to maintain a minimum quality of life.
By wearing the Poppy, our Veterans will see that their efforts and sacrifices are not in vain. In other words, they will know that “We will remember them!”
Wear a Poppy and be proud to be a Canadian!
~Lest We Forget~