Remembrance Day


Remembrance tributes

Remembrance Day stirs many emotions; some filled with praise for our country's war dead, others filled with dread that as the veteran number dwindles, so with our commitment to this special day. CANOE readers can join our newsgroup on the subject, or write a letter to the editor, as those below have done.

I have been reading through your "Rememberance Day" tribute page for the last few days, when time permits. I must say, each and every letter I read is deeply moving. Two minutes of silence once a year is not enough to "honour" our fallen heroes. It definitely should be a statutory holiday, a day we can spend thinking about and honouring fellow human beings who fought for our "freedom".
I also wanted to share a story of my grandfather. I never met my grandfather, and I never inquired about his history. That is until about four years ago. I asked my mother what happened to my grandfather. When she told me the story, I was so filled with pride. My grandfather was not a soldier in the Korean war, rather he was a civilian(a farmer), caught in the war between North and South Korea. He did not believe in "sides", he believed all soldiers were "human beings". He hid some North Korean soldiers in his farm during the war.
After the war was over, his neighbours, told the local authorities(police) of what my Grandfather had done. He was taken away from my grandmother.... they never saw him again. To this day my grandmother is "fearful" of policeman. I think what I'm trying to say is lets not just remember our soldiers, but all the "human beings" who lost their lives during the wars fighting for what they believed was right.

Carvin Song
Mississauga Ont

I'm very happy that your poll is in favor of rememberance day as a national Holiday, but some people would take this day as an excuse to have a day off and it is not right.
I have been in the Forces for the past 15 years and very proud to be a soldier.
I went to rememberence day parades always with in mind of the soldier that gave their lives for the betterment of our country.
Through rain, hail, snow and wind, we stand to pay tribute to those soldiers and their would not be a better place to be on this day.
Thank you very much

Mcpl. Prince

A hollow remembrance day, as long as we still have Kosovos and Chechnyas, we have not truly "kept the faith," with those who died, as John McCrae wrote.

Peter Marshall
New Westminster B.C.

I am an Officer Cadet at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. Since the Great War my family has fought for the great country of Canada. My great-grandfather fought in the first war and was brought back home because of machine gun wounds. My grandfather was a pilot in World War II. My father served two tours in Germany and a total of 34 years for his country, ready to face the onslaught of the Red Army that never came. My mother was I am the fourth generation of soldiers in my family. I believe that their is no greater honour than fighting for one's country. And I believe it is our duty to remember our fallen comrades who payed for freedom with their lives. Two minutes is the least we should be silent. We should be glad everyday that we live in a country where men and women put on that Canadian uniform to keep the world safe. Two minutes isn't asking too much. Remember Canada's soldiers with pride on this and every Rememberance Day.

Ocdt Paul E. Hook
Kingston, Ontario

I'm currently working in a country where there are no Rememberence Services to attend and no Poppies to be found. I printed a copy of "In Flanders Field" to read in commemoration of all those who have died or suffered as victims of their time and not "break faith with us who die"...In the context of it's time, the poem also urges to "take up our quarrel with the foe".
I found another poem, while not of Canadian origin, tells of a similar story with a final message that I can more easily relate to.

Bent Double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind,
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! boys! An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, YOU too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

My thoughts go to Wilfred Owen and the other millions that have been victims of the madness of so few.

Gwyn Graham

I am a student at Queen's University in Kingston Ontario. I am taking a course on the current "Canadian Crisis", the dissolution of our country. I spent the weekend at a moc-conference discussing the fate of our nation, fighting to try to make others come around to the vision of Canada my "party" was attempting to promote. When I got home this weekend, I began to wonder, is there ANYTHING that holds the entire nation together, anything we can all be proud of, all care about, despite the strong divisive regional forces seperating provinces, coast from coast. I found this page tonight, and I found my answer. We may not all identify with other Canadians' needs, desires, culture, beilefs, or even the current structure of our government. Some of us may be frustrated with the slow wheels of change, or the ongoing headaches the size of our country seems to create, but we are all priviledged to have the right to be frustrated, and say it out loud. No one denies the problems of Canada, but I will not deny the men and women who had a vision worth dying for, the vision of freedom, the gratitude they deserve for providing it, at such a costly price to me. I may not value PEI potatoes, or have much in common with a Saskachewan wheat farmer, but the farmer and I share the freedom to speak to each other in any language, go to any church together, and publish our differing views. So thank you, in effect, I owe my life, it's existence, and the current way I am able to live it, to the visionaries who we call veterns, and their counterparts we call peacekeepers.
Sara Jewson

I always take a couple of minutes on the 11th to think of and thank all of our vetrans for their sacrifice. I never served in the armed forces but my family has a long history of service. I can only imagine what my father went through as a 19 year old kid from the Alberta praries. He signed up with the Seaforth Higlanders of Vancouver in Sept 1939 and went through the whole of WWII. I know that he was not far from Smokey Smith when Smokey won his VC. My father has been gone now for 2 years but I will never forget.
God Bless you all and thankyou.

Gary R Smith
Sparks Nevada

As a retired member of the Cdn. Military I make it to a Memorial Service on the 11th.My Father served in the Cdn. Army during WW1,my oldest brother was in the Royal Canadian Navy at the start of WW2 and as a 17 year old he survived the loss of his first ship HMCS Fraser. He then became a member of HMCS Margaree, and at the age of 18, oh so very young,his and many more of his shipmates had their war come to an end. Since that time I have never missed a Remberance Service were ever I was, in Canada or overseas as my duty in the Cdn. Army required.I think that it is most important that we remind the Goverment that this day must be a Day of Remeberance and not just another day to whatch people driving their cars or walking down the street being so busy that they can not let go of their cell phones, is lifeso terribly busy that ALL of US can not STOP for two minutes to remember.I know that I will and even if I have a bus load of children on a school trip I WILL stop the bus and stand and with Eyes closed and head bowed I WILL be silent for two minutes.
We Will Remember.

Jim and Jan Powell
Angus ON

I made a vow to my grandfathers that as long as I live I will never allow Remembrance Day to go unnoticed! I am only 32 years old yet my father's father fought in the first world war and my mother's father in the second. My dad's father was only 15 years old when he enlisted and miraculously survived the trenches to return home in 1919 and during WWII he was a firefighter in the Battle of Britain. My mother never saw her father until she was 3 years old because he was fighting in Africa in the RAF. She lived in the underground during the Blitz while her future father-in-law was above ground fighting the fires ravaging London. What my family and others endured and survived should never be forgotten and it is a crying shame that November 11th is not a national holiday. I will always talk about them and remind those who have 'forgotten' that we owe our everyday rights to those who fought, are fighting and peacekeeping so we can take for granted our freedom.

Julie Kirkpatrick
Vancouver, BC

Nothing moves me more than Remembrance Day. The bugle, the salute, the silence. The stone cenotaph, the slow cadence of names, the Song. Past and future meet at the cenotaph, between the company of silent veterans with their ranks of ghosts, and the honour guard of soldiers, reservists and cadets who stand four-cornered with their weapons. There have been those in our society who deny the past and decry the future, who dismiss our soldiers as psychopathic war-mongering killers, who prate "peace" but have never paid the cost, who do not understand that " there is no justice until the sword creates it, establishes it, guarantees it, gives it substance and significance. First the sword -then government - then law -then justice." We have peace -and justice today because of our veterans; we will have peace -and justice tomorrow because of our soldiers. They have the keeping of it. Because they believe. In the still, secret citadel of their souls, they believe in "pro patria", and "truth, duty, valour". They believe in peace and justice. Three of mine are soldiers in the service of our country and its people. They will be there on Remberance Day. They will be there every day. Be just to them.

Bernita Harris,
Gananoque, Ontario.

I have not seen bombs destroy my house. I have not heard tanks rumble through my street. I have not felt bullets wiz by my head. My family, my neighbours, my friends have not been marched off to camps to slowly and painfully die and disappear through smoke stacks. I have not lived in pain and fear caused by years of war.
I owe big time to those who have fought to end the madness of wars and to those who now put their lifes on the line to keep the peace.

"The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
John McCrae (1915)

Surprisingly, although only 48 years old, I have strong connections,to the First World War.As an inquisitive child,I often visited my grandmother,who told me of the wartime experiences of my grandfather.I remember reading the letters and postcards that he sent my grandmother from France.What surprises me is the cheerfulness of the letters,despite the horrors he witnessed in the trenches and on the shell scarred wasteland known as no man's land.I also remember how he suffered for years,as a consequence of being gassed,only to succumb to its ill effects in 1954.I also remember my grandmother telling me of how one of her brothers was never found,assumed to be blown up by a German shell.
So,yes,the spirit of that Great War will live on in me,as I take two minutes of silence and remember those brave veterans who suffered so much for us.As long as I live,I won't forget the great contribution they made in keeping our society free from tyranny.

Paul Nicholls

I owe the privilege of living in the most wonderful country to the Canadian soldiers who liberated my parent's country in WW2.
My grandparents lived through WW2 in Holland and came to Canada after the war because they had been so impressed by the kindness and courage of the Canadian soldiers who liberated their country. Again and again I have heard about how wonderful those Canadian men were, my grandmother said that they never misbehaved or caused trouble as soldiers from other liberating nations were known to do. They were heroic figures, passing out chocolate to the children and helping in any way they could.
The Dutch have never forgotten and to this day in Holland schoolchildren are assigned the grave of a Canadian soldier to look after for one year.
Thank you to any veterans who read this and to any family members who lost a loved one in the war. Your selflessness is not forgotten.


I come from a military family where my father, uncle, grandfather and great uncles and grandfathers have all served in the military. I have had great uncles Killed in Action. Each year I went to a POW barbeque and heard heart-wrenching stories and each year I go to the Rememberance parades and see fewer and fewer veterans remaining. It saddens me that in a few years our heroes will no longer be. Sadly, my grandfather passed away in 1997. I would like to use this space to retell one of my favourite stories in tribute to my grandfather.
It was December 20, 1943, Edward (Ted) Salmon, was a rear-gunner, in the Lancaster Bomber plane. This day, his plane was shot down over diest. 2 crewman were killed. My grandfather parachuted out of the doomed plane and landed in a farmers field, during his descent he lost one of his boots. As the story goes he buried his parachute and was eventually captured in Brussels in February of 1944. In 1988 (45 years later), My grandfather flew to Europe for a reunion with his Fellow RCAF friends. A farmer showed up to the reunion and tracked down my grandfather. This Farmer returned my grandfathers lost boot.
I will pass on all the stories I have heard to my daughter. I hope I do all the brave men in my stories justice.
God Bless all our heroes.

Nicole Coghlin
Hamilton, Ontario

Blood and Honour... Every member of the Hitler youth new this to be the word of law, and it was there duty to serve their country and their leader.
We sat back and watched a country go from being very poor, high unemployment and no pride, and became one of the most feared country's on the planet....we did nothing, They rounded up every jew they could find and put them in the getto........we did nothing.
After the invasion of Poland we finally stood up and said this must stop and a call was sent out to our fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, etc. Asking them to help free the invaded country's and put a stop to Mr. Hitler.
My uncle's took up that call and became "tankers" with the Fort Garry Horse Tank Reg.
They were sent over seas to fight and they did fight... in the pubs and in the wheat fields until they were ready... To make this story real short, The day was June 04, 1944. France, a group of tanks from the Fort Garry Horse were moving in on a location tasked to them at that time.
The fighting was very heavy and they were taking lots of wounded personal, a tank was hit by a rocket type weapon and was over turned and burning, the commander was burnt alive and the crew was pinned in the tank, a member from another tank ran over and was pulling out the wounded and getting them to safety, on the last round the soldier was shot in the head by a sniper from the 12th SS To the dismay his brother who was standing right beside him, He dove for cover and fix himself on finding the sniper after mins went bye he found the sniper and killed him.
The reason I know this story so well... I'm named after my uncle who gave up his life so we can sit behind these stupid computers and enjoy what we have. We can not let this happen again, no matter what race we come from, we are all the same.
Take a few mins out of your time and go to a vet, look him in the eyes and say "Thank you" We are so proud of what you did.

Donald Shineton, FCM.

November the 11th will be our last Remembrance Day of this century. Like poppies in Flanders fields, thousands of young men died in the trenches of Europe, in Korea, and on the beaches of Normandy and Dieppe. Walking through the Dachau concentration camp, I saw the atrocities committed against mankind and it made me shudder. Inhabitants all over the world just vanished. Some of our last remaining and aging war veterans reside at the George Hees Veterans Wing at the Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. I see living legacies, some without limbs, confirming once again the stark realities of war. History never lies. We should never forget the past, and honor our veterans who fought so valiantly for our freedom. Even when that freedom is repeatedly tested by politically correct interests and events, let us never forget to do our part. If you cherish your freedom, wear your poppy proudly, extend your hand and thank a veteran for their many sacrifices. November the 11th at the 11th hour remember those who went before us.
Lest we forget.

Herman van der Veen
Oshawa, Ont

Sadly, you neglected to mention the 150,000 Canadian peacekeeping veterans and the one hundred and eleven who paid the supreme sacrifice in the quest for global harmony. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association will remember them -- God Bless the Peacekeepers.

William Willbond for James Patrick MacMillan-Murphy
National President CPVA

What if those who volunteered and died
could have seen their futures had they lived.
Glimpses of shadows that might have been.
A loving mate with whom to spend their days.
Children in their own images to fondle and nurture.
Grandchildren to spoil and lavish with love.
For not only did they give up their own existence
but the lives of those never to be born.
Would they have chosen to fight and die?
What if also they viewed the results of defeat
The crushing of the democratic way of life.
The triumph of a racially motivated regime.
The global replication of the holocaust.
The genocide of free speech and assembly.
The arrogant strutting of the master race.
The slavery of democratic peoples everywhere.
The descent into darkness and despair. 
Would they have chosen to fight and die?
This question has bothered me since 1995
When in Holland for the liberation celebration.
A young Jewish girl asked of me the question. 
Would you go through the experience again? 
I answered yes because it had to be done. 
I cannot answer for those thousands who died 
perhaps brutally and painfully at an early age.
However, in my 70's, I know what they forfeited
and deservedly honour and gratitude are theirs. 

When we honour those who were deprived of life
When we lower our heads in a moment of silence. 
Think of the benefits you enjoy because of them.
Was their sacrifice necessary and worthwhile? 
Was it a generation making the right decision?
Would you have made the same choice?
Would you have made the same sacrifice?
To honour their sacrifice distrust governments that
use racial, religious or cultural differences to wage war. 

Time erodes the memory of past events
too soon valour and sacrifice pass into history.
Generations of young men fill the millenniums
appetite for gore. Each donating their substance.
Despite  the terrible cost the carnage replicates,
filling our papers with images of senseless cruelty.
The lesson is, don't throw away your life carelessly.
Think carefully before descending into oblivion.
Make your decision to strive for world peace.
My comrades, was your death a calamity
when it made possible a better world and
possibly saved countless thousands? No!
Was your death a tragedy in terms of
the denied existence of your progeny. Yes!
We the lucky ones know this to be true.
Slowly but surely we will rejoin your ranks,
then only history will retell your story.
We salute you and put names to Remembrance Day.

Robert C. Jarron

Just a note to say "Thank you" for the information you provided concerning Remembrance Day and all that goes along with it. Each year I think of the young men and women who's lives were snuffed out so quickly, some not knowing even what happened, and I thank God for the opportunities their deaths provided for me. We must never forget their sacrifices and hopefully one day all wars will cease.

Robert Grant

This is a poem that a good friend of mine wrote. He's a soldier that never had to fight in a war for he's much too young, but he is far beyond his years in wisdom.
It's untitled.
Memories. We all have memories of other places, times and other people. The same is true of the person next to you, or across the room. I can't remember what happened a year ago. That may not be the best kind of memory but it's not the worst either. How long does a memory truly last, and how long will everyone's memory of me carry on once I am gone? 1 day, a week, a year? Perhaps longer, perhaps not.
Perhaps that's why we make tombstones, to remember those that are no more. I want my memory to be stong in the minds and hearts of those who knew me. I know who I am, and want to be remembered in no other way. So if it's the stone that makes the memory stronger, than bury me in a Castle.
Please include this on your page. He deserves it.

I was born in 1963, to parents who remembered all too well the horrors of war. As I grew older I realized what a price my family and many others had paid in order to liberate Europe and Asia from the grasp of tyranny. When I went to buy a poppy this year the gentleman who sold it to me said "Thank You". I could only respond by saying, " No sir ... Thank You." How I wished I could be more eloquent.
My father named me after his younger brother who died flying for his beliefs. It was a name that as a child was cause for a lot of teasing, but one I hope I've grown into as I've matured. I now wear it proudly and hope that I remain worthy of the tribute.

Robson Jewitt
Cobourg, Ont.

Just a note to say that I'm really impressed by your Remembrance Day site.
It really is a beautiful thing to think that there are still people in this country who care about the Canadian men and women who served both here and overseas in the simple belief that it was their duty to do something to help other peoples and nations that they knew little about, except that there was a need for help. Well done!

Kent Judiesch
Québec City
P.S. Not only is Smokey Smith a WWII vet, but he is also one of our few remaining V.C. winners

After reading in the Sunday Sun that the French government had presented our WW1 veterens with the Legion of Honour, what about our government presenting them with the Order of Canada? I believe it would be a fitting gesture from a grateful population in the recognition of their service.

Barbara Badstober

It was 47 years ago on Nov. 11th that my best buddy and I were out on a recce patrol in Korea, when a enemy mortor round landed too close to us and killed my friend. And just think , on Wed. Nov. 11th 1998, just 47 years later, thousands of people will be free to have a holiday and go shopping. "Bitter", no not me !!!!

Gord Roberts

We seem to be overly concerned, almost alarmed, that Remembrance Day is losing its importance. We are presently experiencing many new generations trying to 'Remember'.
What we must not lose sight of, is the fact that Remembrance Day means something different to each generation, as we move further and further away from WWII .
Let us be thankful that we do NOT need to remember all over again -- for a new world war... and let us individually celebrate as it suits OUR memory. We have not forgotten.


I read this wonderful poem, written by the creator of User Friendly. He has it posted on his site at, and I copied it and posted it on my site at Illiad (the writer), thinks that 'our' generation has sort of forgotten all that they did for us during the wars, since we're seperated by a full generation. So. it would be wonderful if you could post it up. It would be extremely wonderful, actually.

Kevin Sole

Please remember our veterans. They are the reason we live so well. Remember the ultimate sacrifice they made Hope everyone catches recent commercial from Bell Canada -- Grandson calling his grandad from Dieppe -- Grandad very moved that his grandson was calling him to wish him well on his special day. Let us please all live in peace.

Len Gaudet

This letter is to the man I saw tonight at Sherway Gardens. Your medals of long ago campaigns heavy on your chest. I don't know you, yet I feel I owe you so much. A debt that can never be paid because, to do so would not only dishonour you and your comrades, but would bring dishonour to all of us. I wanted to shake your hand and say thank you, but I was afraid I might cause you some embarassment. So I gave my thanks in silence. Sir, you truly are a hero in a world of pretenders and I sincerely wish you all the best and many more years with your beautiful wife.

David Darrach

The following is a tribute to our veterans. The fact that it is about my father is important to me, but the message of remembrance is timeless to a world which is forgetting:

Memories of Walking

Mindless, meaningless miles of march.
Training. The infantry walks or dies
they said. More training. More walking.

Uncounted steps echo on metal decking,
walking to nets, descending to wildly bucking
landing craft. The big walk soon to begin.

July 6, 1944. Thirty days before, the walking
ended, for many. There, on the beach. In the heat
of the sun the new arrival shivered.

Inland, ever walking. Through cities and towns
remembered from books, made real by the miles
traveled. Made real by the deaths of friends.

Sucking, squishing steps in mud. Choking,
blistering steps in dirt where legions
walked before. And feared. And died.

Fearful, faltering steps. Panicky, running
steps. Leaps and bounds and dives
for cover. Quiet steps past lifeless bodies.

A soldier, wounded, twice, returned
to walk. Through France and Belgium and on
to Holland until May 8 next. The war ended.

Another walk, October23, in a palace
called Buckingham. The King presented to
the man a medal. For more than walking.

A final walk, in Montreal, to an armory
remembered as the start of the walking.
His family met him and the walk ended.
The rest of his life began.

J. Kevin Lehman
son of Leo E. Lehman, MM

Many people immigrate to Canada because it is a wonderful safe country to live in. On Nov.11 all of us should take a few moments out of our busy day to pay tribute to the young men and women of our military and all others who gave their lives so that we could be safe.We tend to forget how it could have been without the sacrifice of all these heroes-it's a scary thought isn't it.Please remember them on Nov.11.

R. Brown
Pickering, Ont.

On August 21/1944 my Uncle, William J. Lappin, was killed in action at age 25. Bill and thousands like him went to war in 1939. They fought and died so that we Canadians can be free and live in peace as a country. The word freedom, a thing many of us take for granted. November the 11th is Rememberance Day. t is a day to remember those special Canadians who lost their lives during World War I, World II, Korea and Vietnam. On Remembrance day I hope all Canadians will wear a poppy and observe two minutes of silence. (The silence is for peace) and to remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice so that we as a country can live in peace and be free to live our lives as we choose.

Steve Martin
Toronto, Ont.

In just a few days, I'll stop for a moment, during a busy day, and reflect upon men and women I never knew. I'll envision places I've never visited. I'll imagine sounds that I've only heard from old documentary films. It will be November 11th again, and my generation will go about its business without barely missing a beat. I bear the shame of anyone who doesn't stop to acknowledge those who paid the ultimate price for freedom. I'll be a witness for those who died, and fight for them, to keep their rightful memories alive. I will not forget, lest others forget.

Jay Patterson