On November 11, 1918, an Armistice agreement was signed at Le Françoise near Compiegne (France), which ended the fighting on land, sea and air in the World War I. The signed agreement by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch came into force at 11:00 Paris time, November 11, 1918. Since then, Remembrance Day has been established as Memorial Day.
Each year, Canadians pause in a minute of silence to honor the memory of the people who fought heroically and died on the battlefield.
Together with Canada, many countries such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Cayman Islands, the United States, Australia and South Africa observe the tradition of Remembrance Day at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Depending on the nation, Memorial Day may have an altered name like Armistice Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Poppy Day, but all nations respectfully honor the memory of people died in the war.
In 1921, a tradition began wearing red poppies on the chest in memory of those who died in military conflicts.
Of course, the poppy would not have become such a sacred symbol if it hadn’t been depicted in art. Canadian physician Lt. Col. John McCrae wrote the military poem “In Flanders Fields.“ He glorified red poppies which grew on graves of fallen soldiers, on the fields of France and Belgium, where the bloodiest battles of the First World War took place. Red color of poppies was associated with blood spilled on the battlefield.
Now red poppies are one of the world’s most recognizable memorial symbols in memory of soldiers who died in battle.
In Flanders Fields
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.
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae
~ May 3, 1915
(As published in Punch Magazine, December 8, 1915)
The little red flower will never die, and the memories of the fallen in battle will be always strong.