Remembrance Day in Ottawa
"Without freedom there can be no peace, and without peace, no freedom." - King George VI
For those not old enough to remember war, it may be difficult to understand why we observe Remembrance Day. That's a blessing, for it means the sacrifices of so many have not been in vain, but it also means it's vitally important for us to continue to remember those sacrifices. Without the reminder, it could be too easy to lose sight of all that we have gained - and lost.
This year Remembrance Day - Nov. 11 - also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the war that was the impetus for initiating the observance as a way to remember and honour the millions of people killed. Of course, Remembrance Day grew to encompass the Second World War, the Korean War and all conflicts since then.
With all of that in min, here are some ways you can mark both Remembrance Day itself and the bravery and selflessness of those who continue to protect us.
Before Nov. 11
The World Remembers: This First World War centenary project commemorates fallen soldiers by projecting their names onto the Government Conference Centre and the Canadian War Museum. A "search the names" function at The World Remembers lets you find out when a particular name will appear.
Virtual Poppy Drop: From 6:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. every evening until Nov. 11, the Royal Canadian Legion presents a Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill, where 117,000 falling poppies will be projected onto the Peace Tower and Centre Block, representing Canada's fallen.
The Edge of Peace: From dusk until 10:30p.m. nightly until Nov. 11, Veterans Affairs Canada presents The Edge of Peace, a new multimedia production in Confederation Park. The presentation will illuminate a "moon garden" commemorating Canada's Hundred Days and the Armistice of the First World War, while honouring all who have served.
Kipnes Lantern Display: The National Arts Centre's Kipnes Lantern will also shine with symbols of remembrance. From 10p.m. to 7a.m. until Nov. 11, the lantern will display images of the men and women of the First World War. And from 7a.m. to midnight on Nov. 11, it will show the cascading poppies to accompany the Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill.
A Matter of Spirit: On Nov. 10, Parkdale United Church hosts a musical tribute by Canadian composer Christine Donkin, who was commissioned to create a new work for choir and orchestra commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War. This moving new work focuses on women's perceptions of war, drawing on texts that reflect the wartime experiences of three Canadian women: French-Canadian Blanche Bessette, English-Canadian Nellie McClung, and Edith Monture, a Mohawk First World War veteran who was the first Indigenous Canadian woman to become a registered nurse. Tickets range from $15 to $20.
Night of Broken Glass: This special commemorative concert featuring the National Youth Orchestra of Germany is in remembrance of the terror and violence faced by Germany's Jewish population at the hands of the Nazis, including the widespread destruction of Jewish businesses and synagogues on the night of Nov. 9, 1938: Kristallnacht - the "Night of Broken Glass". The orchestra and special guests will perform a unique and varied programme dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust. The concert at Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Ave., is free, but tickets must be reserved in advance.
On Nov. 11
Downtown: Of course, the BIG event is the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial. If you've never been, it's worth the effort to join in the thousands of others who will attend. So far, the long-range forecast calls for a cool but sunny day. At 10:30a.m., a Veterans Parade departs from near Parliament Hill and makes its way to the War Memorial, followed by the arrival of dignitaries such as the Prime Minister, the Governor General, and the Silver Cross Mother - a woman whose child has died while serving in the military.
Additional programming includes the national anthem, two minutes of silence, a wreath-laying ceremony and a rousing fly-past (weather permitting). At the end of the ceremony and throughout the day, people remove poppies from their coats and place them on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tomb is covered in red poppies by the end of the day.
Thousands of people gather, rain or shine, to pay their respects to veterans during this very moving event. Crowds can hear the proceedings over loud speakers and have the option to watch a live feed on the jumbo screens. The event is also broadcast nationally on television and the Legion's facebook page.
Free Remembrance Day Concert: At 12:30p.m. on Nov. 11, the National Arts Centre presents a special free concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. NAC Music Director Alexander Shelley will conduct the German Youth Orchestra in the world premiere of The World Remembers, a song cycle by Canadian composers. Members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Ottawa's own OrKidstra, as well as local choirs will also perform. The free, 75-minute concert takes place in Southam Hall. No tickets are required, and seating is general admission.
War Museum: The Canadian War Museum is a living memorial to Canada's military history. A key piece of the building's design becomes the centrepiece on Nov. 11. At exactly 11a.m., weather permitting, a beam of sunlight will shine through a single window into the museum's Memorial Hall to perfectly frame the headstone from the grave of Canada's Unknown Soldier. To observe the beam of light from within Memorial Hall, tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis as of 9:30a.m.. Other special events and interactive activities, such as Build Your Own Monument (using clay), are also held on Nov. 11. Museum admission is free on Remembrance Day.
Beechwood Cemetery: Part of the Beechwood Cemetery is also the National Military Cemetery. From 10:30a.m. to noon, a ceremony of Remembrance will take place to honour all those who have fallen in the service of Canada and all Canadian Forces members interred at the cemetery. There is also a marching contingent including veterans, a band and a children's choir performance.
Giving Back: If you love exercise and giving back, consider joining the Soldiers of Fitness Drop-in Boot Camp on Nov. 11. It involves a 30-minute circuit with a warm-up, strength movements, and high intensity drills from 7a.m. until 4:30p.m., with a break for the Remembrance Day ceremony. Funds raised fo to Wounded Warriors Canada, which helps Canadian soldiers impacted from active duty.
Local Observances: Several communities around the region hold their own, more intimate Remembrance day services. Check with your community association, local paper (if you have one), legion branch, or church for details.