Remembrance Day 2020
The year 2020 was a significant year for our war Veterans and the Royal Canadian Legion, as this year marked the 75th anniversary for several milestones during World War II. May 5th was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. The First Canadian Army and the 2nd Canadian Corps played major roles during the fight for freedom in the Netherlands and more than 7,600 Canadians died in battle. Many are buried in places of honour known as the Canadian War Cemeteries in Belgium and Germany.
More than one million Canadians served during WW II (1939-1945), and May 8th marked the 75th anniversary of the surrender of Germany, known as the Victory of Europe (VE Day). On May 8th 1945, 200,000 Canadians in uniform stationed throughout Europe joined the allied forces in laying down their arms when victory in Europe was declared.
The end of the war in the Pacific and the surrender that finally ended the Second World War occurred on August 15th – 75 years ago. With war finally over, our soldiers, sailors and air force men and women began to come home and the Royal Canadian Legion was there to offer them a safe haven, support and comradery.
75 years on, we as Canadians have done our best to honour the memories of those who did not return home, and we continue to find ways to thank our Veterans who are still with us today. Since the end of both World War I and World War II, our military continues to serve around the world in conflicts, humanitarian missions, in times of disaster and in peacekeeping missions. We have reserved one day each year to remember all those who choose to wear the uniform in defence of Canada – November 11th.
Like all occasions and events that have had to change and adapt in 2020 during the pandemic, Remembrance Day will also be different. There will be no large gatherings at cenotaphs, in Legions or with Veterans groups, as is our tradition. The Royal Canadian Legion said in a recent news release that the National Remembrance Day Ceremony 2020 will be a more intimate commemoration. The fact that we will not be able to participate in a parade and that we will not be able to gather in large crowds should not detract from the importance of the day.
Our local Legions in Orangeville, Shelburne and Alton, and our municipalities are working on ways to engage and encourage acts of remembrance in much smaller groups. It may be watching a service on TV (locally Rogers Cable will be broadcasting services) or a simple minute of silence in your own home or at work – but there are ways to take the time and reflect on the sacrifice given by so many in the name of freedom, more than 75 years ago.
The poppy campaign is going ahead this year and poppies will be available (on sale from October 30th until November 11th) and I am encouraging everyone to buy a poppy and make a donation to the poppy fund. The sale of poppies directly support Veterans and families of Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, throughout the year. You will be making a difference in the lives of Veterans who need additional help.
Lest we forget.