Monday, November 5, 2012

Remembrance Day ~ Kamloops, BC ~ Canada

November 11th , called Armistice Day until 1931 when it became Remembrance Day, is the day set aside every year when we remember all those who fought in battles for our country and did not come home.  We also honor those who did come home after fighting their valiant battles and are part of our country’s history, many have passed on since that time and need to be remembered as well. There are very few remaining who fought during WW2, and they will also be remembered on Nov. 11th.

This was taken with group in England
Jim Hughes during WW 2 in England, 1942
There were thousands of Canadian soldiers who did not come home from war. Those who did return had all left friends behind who had fought for their country but lost their battle to return home.  Many of us “baby boomers” had mothers or fathers who had been involved in World War 2 and we have the personal stories they shared to remember.  My dad, Jim Hughes was one of those fortunate soldiers who came home.
Taken when they were in East Grinstead, England
The Canadian Armed Division Support Group Coy R.C.A.S.C. in England, 1942
There were thousands of Canadian soldiers who did not come home from the wars.  66,665 were killed during the World War 1 when there was only a population of 7 million people in Canada. During World War 2, Canada lost 46,998 young soldiers from a population of 11 million, a high percentage for any loss.
The cenotaph was constructed following WW 1 to honor those killed in war.
Kamloops Cenotaph and Memorial Park
The Women’s Auxiliary to the Canadian Legion raised the funds that were needed to build and erect the Kamloops Cenotaph following World War 1 and the unveiling happened on May 24, 1925.  Names of soldiers lost in World War 1 were put on at that time and names have been added for World War 2 since.

Sad remains and a tribute to those who died here
  Hellfire Pass in Thailand
Several years ago during a visit to Thailand, we spent some time at Hellfire Pass which was built by POW’s during WW2.  The video we watched with footage taken at that camp was something I will never forget and although there were very few Canadian soldiers at this POW camp, there were about 16,000 soldiers who died.  One inscription on the plaque shown in the photo says, “When you go home, tell them of us, say we gave our tomorrow for your today”.  For more info on Hellfire Pass, click here.
Honoring all Canadian soldiers killed in the war in Afghanistan.
Portraits of Honor visited Kamloops, BC
A Portrait of Honor (clik here for more info) was created to honor the Canadian soldiers killed in the war of Afghanistan and paid a visit to Kamloops during its tour of Canada.  A Kamloops soldier, MCpl Erin Doyle was honored during this ceremony and his name has since been added to the Kamloops Cenotaph at Memorial Park.
Kamloops soldiers names are embedded in the cenotaph to be remembered forever
Kamloops Cenotaph honors soldiers killed in action 
There are cenotaphs throughout Canada but the Kamloops Cenotaph and Memorial Park has one of few that have a clock within it.  The corner if 2nd and Battle St., which seems an appropriately named location, is the sight of the Cenotaph where Remembrance Day services were held. 
A monument to the soldiers killed in action in Kamloops, BC
Cenotaph in Riverside Park, Kamloops, BC
Due to the larger crowds that are part of this annual Remembrance Day in Kamloops, the ceremonies are now held at Riverside Park and the parade will leave to parade through the city from this location following the ceremony. The public is invited to attend to honor those soldiers we lost in war.
The poppy grows in Flanders Fields and used to remember the soldiers who died in war.
The poppy is the official flower of Remembrance Day
The poppy is the official flower that pays tribute to all the veterans of the wars. When we purchase a poppy, we not only show our support but we also offer some financial support to the endeavors of the Royal Canadian Legion.  The money raised annually in Canada is $16.5 million and funds collected stay local to supply medical equipment, home services and long term care facilities for those needing such help.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row;
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead.  Short days ago
We live, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were love, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, thought poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

                                                     Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD

  Lest we forget

Veteran's Day is recognized in the United States on November 11 and we were impressed by the honor they paid their lost soldiers with the American flag while visiting there a few years ago.  To see more, click here.