Wednesday, November 5, 2014

World War Wednesdays: A Year in Remembrance

World War Wednesdays: A Year in Remembrance
     Well, here we are, a week away from Remembrance Day. The usual melancholy is creeping up, as it always does the week before November 11th, and remains for some time after. This year has proven itself to be especially worthy of reflection, significantly in recent times. It has been a major year for Canada. I will highlight two of the biggest events of the year, of which I have had the privilege of participating in, and are good to keep in mind as we commemorate them as one collective day next week.
Last year's Remembrance Day ceremony at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa

1. The first and most widely-acknowledged anniversary in 2014 is the centenary of Canada's entry into the First World War. If you have followed any of my past blogs this has been a common theme, as there have been many events, projects and programs aimed at recognizing this. After a period of tension in Europe, a series of alliances formed, and the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the "powder keg" that was Europe finally exploded in August 1914. Great Britain had delivered an ultimatum to Germany to remove troops from the neutral country of Belgium, which Britain had pledged to defend. When the ultimatum expired with no German action,
Great Britain and Germany were at war. So too was the British Empire, including Canada and the independent colony of Newfoundland.
Members Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, September 1914
2. Another major event that occurred earlier this year was the commemoration of 75 years since D-Day, in the Second World War. I attended the ceremony on the 6th of June, which was held at the Canadian Museum of Aviation and Space. I wrote a blog highlighting my experiences that day, which you can read here if you're interested: Determined to end four years of often-brutal German occupation, on 6 June 1944, Allied forces invaded Western Europe along an 80-kilometre front in Normandy, France. Of the nearly 150,000 Allied troops who landed or parachuted into the invasion area, 14,000 were Canadians. They assaulted a beachfront code-named “Juno”, while Canadian paratroopers landed just east of the assault beaches. Although the Allies encountered German defences bristling with artillery, machine guns, mines, and booby-traps, the invasion was a success. It allowed for a considerable breakthrough for the Allies, paving the way to victory in the next year.
A photo I took at the outdoor D-Day ceremonies
     Of course, these are just two of the major events that have been recognized in Canada on their anniversaries. There are always annual commemorations for other events such as the Battle of Britain. There are also many more upcoming significant anniversaries associated with the two I have discussed, which you can read more about on the Canadian War Museum Altogether, these anniversaries are markers of just how much time has passed since the First and Second World Wars, and they should be observed as lessons for how much has changed and how much can be appreciated as a result of their impact.
     This time of year hopefully gets a lot of people thinking about Canada's participation in the two World Wars, in addition to other conflicts. Many can draw personal connections to the experiences of these events through family involvement, and I would love to hear more about how you connect with these events in our history. As always, thanks for reading,

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