Day of Remembrance 2014

I just got home from attending a Remembrance Day ceremony. I usually try to get out to one if it’s at all possible. Quite often I attend the assembly at my children’s school but this year the weather was so gorgeous I wanted to be outside. I chose to avoid the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. I knew that it would be very crowded this year and there would be all sorts of hype surrounding it. Although I can understand why people want to remember en mass – I believe it makes them feel connected – my own preference is something more subdued. I had thought about going to the Canadian War Museum, but I figured it, too, would be insanely busy. So instead of braving the crowds, I went to the Beechwood Cemetery where the National Military Cemetery is located.


I couldn’t have made a better choice. The cemetery, although busy, was not at all crowded. In fact, even with all of the military personnel and those who came for the ceremony, the enormous cemetery managed to remain beautifully peaceful. Before the ceremony I wandered the part of the cemetery where those who fought in the two World Wars were buried. Surprisingly it was relatively empty of visitors. Most people went directly to the area where the ceremony was being held; the burial place of anyone who has served in the Canadian Armed Forces. I was happy, though, to be there alone with my thoughts and the beauty of the day. I took photos and read the inscriptions on many of the headstones. I thought about the two world wars and the many, many young people who enlisted and never came back home to be able to enjoy Canada as it is today.

The ceremony, itself, was low key but respectful. There were veterans there who were applauded upon arrival. All of the required musical pieces were played and sung. Two minutes of silence was bookended by artillery fire.There were prayers and dedications, the laying of the wreathes, and the reading of In Flanders Fields. Toward the end of the ceremony two military jets (CF-18’s?) flew over adding a bit of excitement to an otherwise reserved affair. What always amazes me is the hush that falls over such a large number of people. All you could hear during the two minutes of silence were birds singing, leaves and flags fluttering in the breeze, and the low hum of traffic beyond the cemetery boundaries. It really was, to me, the perfect Remembrance Day ceremony.


fall graves


8 thoughts on “Day of Remembrance 2014

  1. As Abufares says, very reflective Isobel. It always amazes me how we miss the opportunity to reflect during these solemn dates. Over here most people go shopping or to the beach. I am lucky to never have lost anyone in a war. Still, I am very gracious to all veterans and soldiers that lost their lives for their effort trying to keep our freedom and believes, most probably while being scared and under so much duress.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You certainly don’t need a specific day or ceremony to reflect, Hebe, as I’m sure you know. It is nice to attend but I find it more important how you feel about it inside rather than whether or not you wear a poppy and go to the ceremony.


  2. As always Isobel I really enjoyed reading your post, and especially this one and seeing the pictures you took, wow, really hits home when you see all those tombstones….thanks for sharing.


  3. I stopped going to the Ottawa Remembrance Ceremony a few years ago because I thought it was more a show than a real moment where I could pause, think and reflect on those terrible events that are wars. I remember my last ceremony there I stood the whole ceremony looking at the back of the Cenotaph and the RCMP snipers on the roof, barely hearing what they were saying at the microphone. I can understand that someone who watched the ceremony on TV his whole life can represent something important to be there once

    Instead I decided to go to the ceremony in Aylmer, Qc which is much smaller and even have the Ottawa Police bag pipe band which add something special to the ceremony but there is no F-18 flypass but the sound of bagpipe made me forget that

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nelson. Thank you for commenting. I absolutely applaud your reasons for seeking out something smaller – mainly because they are very similar to my reasons. I tried to avoid the politics of the situation in my post…although there were many things written which weren’t published in the end. It’s not that I’m afraid to say them, but I wanted the post to be positive.

      I absolutely resent the glorification of war which is what I find is happening more and more downtown. I don’t want to be caught up in a mass consciousness that is not necessarily on parallel with my own. I don’t want to be told what to think, what to wear, or whom to mourn. As much as I am aware of the sacrifices of soldiers, there is much, much more to the tragedy of war than that of the death of a soldier. The focus, on Remembrance Day, I believe – and I know many others do too – is to remember so that we don’t keep repeating our mistakes. To work toward peace…everywhere…not more war.

      I would have exchanged the flypast for a pipe band any day. Perhaps I’ll go to Aylmer next year. 🙂


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