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Lest we forget 11.11.03


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On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month ...


In Flanders Fields

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 lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, 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, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

- John McCrae


Reply to Flanders Fields

Oh! sleep in peace where poppies grow;

The torch your falling hands let go

Was caught by us, again held high,

A beacon light in Flanders sky

That dims the stars to those below.

You are our dead, you held the foe,

And ere the poppies cease to blow,

We'll prove our faith in you who lie

In Flanders Fields.

Oh! rest in peace, we quickly go

To you who bravely died, and know

In other fields was heard the cry,

For freedom's cause, of you who lie,

So still asleep where poppies grow,

In Flanders Fields.

As in rumbling sound, to and fro,

The lightning flashes, sky aglow,

The mighty hosts appear, and high

Above the din of battle cry,

Scarce heard amidst the guns below,

Are fearless hearts who fight the foe,

And guard the place where poppies grow.

Oh! sleep in peace, all you who lie

In Flanders Fields.

And still the poppies gently blow,

Between the crosses, row on row.

The larks, still bravely soaring high,

Are singing now their lullaby

To you who sleep where poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

- John Mitchell



***Please try to bump this up today,...thanks.***

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Veterans Affairs Canada

Why Remember

We must remember. If we do not, the sacrifice of those one hundred thousand Canadian lives will be meaningless. They died for us, for their homes and families and friends, for a collection of traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for Canada. The meaning of their sacrifice rests with our collective national consciousness; our future is their monument. (Heather Robertson, A Terrible Beauty, The Art of Canada at War, Toronto, Lorimer, 1977.)

These wars touched the lives of Canadians of all ages, all races, all social classes. Fathers, sons, daughters, sweethearts were killed in action, were wounded, and many of those who returned were forever changed. Those who stayed in Canada also served - in factories,, in voluntary service organizations, wherever they were needed.

Yet, for many of us, war is a phenomenon viewed through the lens of a television camera or a journalist's account of battles fought in distant parts of the world. Our closest physical and emotional experience may be the discovery of wartime memorabilia in a family attic. But even items such as photographs, uniform badges, medals, diaries can seem vague and unconnected to the life of their owner. For those of us who were born during peacetime, all wars appear to be far removed from our daily activities.

As Canadians we often take for granted our current way of life, our freedom to participate in cultural and political events, and our right to live under a government of our choice. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms in our constitution ensures that all Canadians enjoy protection under the law. The Canadians who went off to war in distant lands went in the belief that such rights and freedoms were being threatened. They truly believed that "Without freedom there can be no ensuring peace and without peace no enduring freedom." (King George VI at dedication of National War Memorial, Ottawa, May 21, 1939.)

In remembering their service and their sacrifice, we recognize the tradition of freedom they fought to preserve. These men and women had faith in the future and by their acts gave us the will to preserve peace for all time. On Remembrance Day, we acknowledge the courage and gallantry of those who served their country.

During times of war, individual acts of heroism occurred frequently; only a few were recorded and received official recognition. In remembering all who served, we recognize the many of willingly endured the hardships and the fear so that we could live in peace.


2003 Remembrance Poster -- Canada Remembers the Korean War

This year, as part of a year of remembrance marking the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the 2003 poster commemorates Canadian sacrifice and achievement during the Korean War. The poster features the Monument to Canadian Fallen located in Busan, South Korea. The Monument was erected due to the efforts of the Canadian Veterans Korean War Commemoration Committee and was unveiled at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan in 2001 and dedicated and consecrated in 2002. The monument design concept calls to mind the sacrifice of Canada and Canadian soldiers. It was designed by Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Korean War Veteran Vincent Courtenay, who managed the fund raising effort from Korea and also supervised sculpting, casting and siting of the Monument. A replica of the Monument is currently located in Windsor, Ontario and will be relocated to Ottawa and dedicated in September, 2003.

The monument shows an unarmed Canadian soldier holding a young Korean girl and guiding a Korean boy. The children represent the generations of Koreans who live in freedom thanks to those who served and those who made the supreme sacrifice. The girl is holding a bouquet of 21 maple leaves, representing the 16 Canadians with no known grave and the five Canadian sailors lost at sea. The boy is holding a bouquet in which maple leaves are mixed with roses of Sharon, the national flower of Korea, as a symbol of the friendship between the two countries. The monument bears the inscription: "We'll never forget you brave sons of Canada" in English, French and Korean, along with the names of the 516 Canadian soldiers who died serving in the Korean War. The design also conveys the message of peace, the goal of all who served in Korea. There are no weapons or symbols of war depicted.

Also featured on the poster is a pewter pin created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice as well as two poppies.

As Canadians, we have been handed a rich legacy of peace, freedom and identity—it is now up to us to preserve and pass on this legacy to future generations. Canadians have and continue to put themselves in harm's way, often willing to offer their lives, in the quest for peace, freedom and the preservation of human values worldwide.



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Actually, I use the word "lest" here and there. In fact, I remember using it last night, in the context of something like, "lest I grow bored." It was marvelous, but then, I like to hearken back to the days of yore.

But yes, tomorrow is a good day for me to reflect on the sacrifices others have made for me, as well as to remember that there are just wars and causes worth fighting for.

Thanks for the post, Esau.

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My grandad told us he was a pilot during the war. The few times I asked about it he wouldn't say any more. After he died my grandmother let us in on the secret - he was actually a cook. I've often wished he told us the truth, so that he could have told us some stuff about it. Food is as important as anything else in a war I guess.

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Two years ago I caught The International Noise Conspiracy ( a killer real punk band ) at the Reverb in and around Rememberance Day. A local band called the Chickens opened. The lead singer for the Chickens told the audience that poppies offended him and anyone that wore one was pro war. Needless to say he got booed soundly.

I fucking hate Chickens.

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Remembrance Day runs close to home for me for a number of reasons. My grandfather was an attache in the second world war and commandant of Camp Petawawa and Valcartier on Canadian soil. Also it is believed that Flanders Field is written about the passing of his cousin Lt. Alexis Helmer. It's really eerie how much he looks like my grandfather, uncle and cousin and not surprisingly his regimental portrait at the McCrae house here in Guelph unnerves me. Certainly he and McCrae were very close friends and there is good historical evidence to support the theory. It is bandied about in our family, though not publicly, that they may in fact have been intimate.



It is believed that the death of Alexis Helmer was the inspiration for McCrae's poem 'In Flanders Fields'. The exact details of when the first draft was written may never be known because there are various accounts by those who were with McCrae at that time.

One account says that he was seen writing the poem sitting on the rearstep of an ambulance the next day while looking at Helmer's grave and the vivid red poppies that were springing up amongst the graves in the burial ground.

Another account says that McCrae was so upset after Helmer's burial that he wrote the poem in twenty minutes in an attempt to compose himself.

A third account by his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Morrison, states that John told him he drafted the poem partly to pass the time between the arrival of two groups of wounded at the first aid post and partly to experiment with different variations of the metre.

Lieutenant Colonel Morrison wrote about the small burial ground where Alexis Helmer was originally buried:

"A couple of hundred yards away, there was the headquarters of an infantry regiment and on numerous occasions during the sixteen day battle, we saw how they crept out to bury their dead during lulls in the fighting. So the rows of crosses increased day after day, until in no time at all it had become quite a sizeable cemetery. Just as John described it, it was not uncommon early in the morning to hear the larks singing in the brief silences between the bursts of the shells and the returning salvos of our own nearby guns." (1)

During 1915 John McCrae sent the poem to 'The Spectator' magazine. It was not published and was returned to him. It was, however, published in 'Punch' magazine on 8 December 1915.

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Originally posted by Velvet:

After he died my grandmother let us in on the secret - he was actually a cook.

My dad didn't talk much about the WWII either. He didn't claim to be a pilot, but he must have done something brave (or reckless) in an aircraft, since someone saw fit to award him a Distinguished Flying Cross.

His dad was in the Newfoundland Regiment during WWI. Obviously he survived the war, but I think he was one of the few that made through the Battle of the Somme. I don't have much evidence of his service, but as close as I can tell, his service number is consistent with those of survivors of that horrible battle.

Another one of my grandfathers performed espionage for the RAF during WWII. He was dropped into Germany along with five of his new best friends.

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My uncle was a Spitfire pilot. He told us that war was a horrible thing but he also described the excitement that he felt as a young man, flying this wonderful, powerful and horrible machine.

My dad worked on radar with the British navy. He was a math student at Cambridge at the time.

My mum's house was bombed. It was flattened but they survived, hiding in a shelter under the stairs.


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I really think that it is amazing how we get caught up in our day to day crap and complain about, say, the sound quality of a show or a boring day at work, when i read about people whose houses were flattened or men who flew planes in a horrific experience...really puts things in perspective.

It also makes me think about all the people in iraq and other war torn contries and what they have to deal with day to day.

I feel its really important to think about these things - especially on Nov. 11.

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Guest Low Roller

While November 11th is Rememberance Day in Canada, in Poland they celebrate Independance Day, since it was on November 11th, 1918, that the armistice was signed that ended the First World War, and freed Poland of a hundred year occupation by Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary. Essentially from 1795 to 1918, Poland didn't really exist as a country.

Both my Grandfathers served in the Second World War as Officers in the Polish army. They managed to survive the Nazi occupation and the War. Once the Soviets marched into Poland as its 'saviours' in 1945, my Paternal family fled to France and eventually Canada, while my Maternal family wasn't as lucky. My grandfather was imprisoned by the Soviets for being an Officer in the Polish Army, and sent to Siberia.

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Originally posted by B & Z:

My dad worked on radar with the British navy. He was a math student at Cambridge at the time.

Cool. My grandfather--the one that ended up in Germany--was working in radio and radar for the RAF. If you can, ask your dad about the magnatron, sometime. My grandfather tells me that the Americans gave the Brits 20 battleships for it.

(For those of you that don't know, a magnatron is the business end of a microwave oven. It's the thing that spits microwaves. It enabled the Brits to detect the Germans *much* farther away than the Germans could detect -them-, turning the Brits into a combination of a ghost airforce and the Hand of God.)

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It's really great, and important, to see people sharing tales of relatives who fought or were affected by the war. To me, this embodies the spirit of Remembrance Day. The fact is, thousands of untold stories exist, simply because there are no descendants of these poor souls to tell them.

My own grandparents were among the lucky. War indirectly led to me, as grandfather met my grandmother fighting in Italy after having been ousted from Poland. They were relocated in England after the war, and my grandfather, a trained lawyer, was given a job in an asbestos factory, where he worked all his life. My grandmother is still alive, and I encourage everyone reading this to sit down with a senior friend or relative and talk about their experiences in war. They often think nothing of it, it was just the way of the world. To us, however, these tales are jaw-dropping, and I'm always overcome by a feeling of gratitude that we are able to live in peace.

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