What is Remembrance Day?
Remembrance Day, observed in Commonwealth nations on November 11, holds much the same meaning as America’s Veterans Day. Celebrated throughout the entire Commonwealth on November 11 since the end of WWI, Remembrance Day actually marks Armistice Day — the day on which the hostilities between the Allies and Germany ceased on the Western Front. (The Commonwealth includes 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire.)
History of Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, due to the tradition of the remembrance poppy, is a day observed in Commonwealth member states. The tradition goes back to the end of the First World War as a way to honor the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. King George V began the holiday in 1919.
The tradition of Remembrance Day evolved out of Armistice Day. The initial Armistice Day began at Buckingham Palace, with the king hosting a banquet honoring the French president. Later, during World War II, many countries changed the name of the holiday. The U.S. chose Veterans Day.
Remembrance Day in Canada, known as Jour du Souvenir, remains a statutory holiday in six of the 10 provinces. The Armistice Day Act, which held throughout the 1920s, declared that Canada’s Thanksgiving would also be observed on Armistice Day — the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. The government, in 1931, officially changed the date to November 11. The name also changed to Remembrance Day. Canada’s Thanksgiving now falls on the second Monday in October
Canada has declared that the date is of “remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace”; particularly the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts since then in which members of the Canadian Armed Forces have participated.
The government also runs a program called Canada Remembers with the mission of helping young and new Canadians, most of whom have never known war, “come to understand and appreciate what those who have served Canada in times of war, armed conflict and peace stand for and what they have sacrificed for their country.”