World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June, but the fighting stopped seven months beforehand when an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. This meant that both sides agreed to stop fighting one another. It is for this reason that November 11th, the day the armistice was agreed upon, marks the end of the War.
Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day as it is known in the United States, is a day dedicated to remember the members of the armed forces who gave their lives and/or service during the war. A moment of silence takes place at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month as this marks the time when the armistice came into effect in 1918.
Red poppies are worn on Remembrance Day and for weeks beforehand. The use of the poppy was inspired by the first line in a poem. In Flanders Field, commonly thought to have been written by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, is a poem written after McCrae witnessed the death of his friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer.
The text, as provided in a collection of poems by McCrae in 1919, is as follows:
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.
This year is a particularly special year as it marks the first time since the war ended that Remembrance Day takes place at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year.
We at Shakespeare in Action would like to wish you all a reflective Remembrance Day as we thank those who gave their lives so we might be free.
S.I.A IS ARTISTIC COMPANY IN RESIDENCE AT CENTRAL TORONTO ACADEMY. © SHAKESPEARE IN ACTION 2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.