Remembrance Day and the WI

Remembrance Day and the WI

The current generation of Canadians are familiar with the  marking of Remembrance Day each November, and the sacrifices of so many young Canadians on numerous battlefields around the world.

First, a brief history lesson in how citizens can influence the governments of the day: This is taken from the BCWI History Book titled  100 Years of   B. C. Women’s Institutes 1909 – 2009.

“In the 1920’s there was a move to combine Thanksgiving and Armistice Day into one public holiday. The position had its proponents and detractors, and Shirley Women’s Institute circulated a resolution. “Whereas the true significance of Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day is lost by being combined into one holiday; and Whereas November 11 should be kept as a public holiday in honour and memory of  those who made the Armistice possible; Therefore be it resolved to ask Women’s Institutes and other organizations to take steps to induce the Federal Government to have Armistice Day, November 11th declared a public holiday.” The Institute  received letters of endorsement from Victoria WI, as well as from the Family Herald and Weekly Star of Montreal, the Times and the Colonist newspapers of Victoria and the Victoria and Sooke Branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.”

So today, Thanksgiving is celebrated in October, and Remembrance Day is November 11 – and that is how it should be – the gift of a free world and the lives lost to secure it surely deserves a day of remembrance and contemplation of its own.

One more passage from the WI History Book:

“The veterans of World War 1 were remembered in connection with Armistice Day, but as the times moved along, some of them considered themselves overlooked, and probably with justification.  One veteran re-wrote Colonel John McCrea’s poem “In Flanders Fields”:

“We Are The Living”

In Flanders Fields we do not lie

Where poppies grow and larks do fly

Forever singing as they go

Above the bodies row on row

Of those whose duty ’twas to die.

We are the maimed, death did deny

Its solace. Crippled, blind, we try

To find on earth the peace they know

In Flanders Fields.

Forget us not as years go by

On  your remembrance we rely

For love that sees our hearts below

Our broken bodies, else we grow

To crave the peace with those who lie

In Flanders Fields.”

This version of the poem was used to remind Canadians of those who left to fight for the Empire and returned permanently disabled. Blind and crippled, many of them with wives and families to support, they made an annual appeal to the public for remembrance. Near Armistice Day, poppies made by the veterans in a craft factory in Victoria were sold and a Tag Day was conducted, an effort supported by the Women’s Institutes.”

We honour the Canadian Armed Forces this month, and also all the family members of those brave men and women who chose to serve their country, but in doing so, did not return home. We do remember you.


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