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Nov. 11 marks the anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War, a hopeful event still marked 100 years later with sombre remembrance of those lost in that war, and the many actions that followed.
SaltWire journalists from across Atlantic Canada have created this collection of stories about the First and Second World Wars, the soldier's and nurse's life, and people who have lived it. These stories are relevant not just on Remembrance Day, but every day.
"Let me know what regiment Arthur Whitman is in or if he is in hospital or wounded, killed or what. It’s strange that I have never seen him as almost every fellow I ever knew I have seen over here but never one that knew his name even. Starrett has a staff job where he is safe as if he were home by the fireside, his people need have no fear of him never coming back. Probably it is bad everywhere now though so we will have to make the best of it."
“It’s hard to generalize, but I think there was a profound sense of grief … and it took many families, and returning soldiers, a long time to come to grips with what they had gone through."
The collective residue of the war for many was, of course, grief.
“What I try to emphasize with the people I interact with is the price that families and communities paid in the First World War… the stories of those who died and never got to contribute what they could."
“At 4:29 p.m., we are asking anyone or any organization that has a bell to ring their bell 100 times at five-second intervals. It will end at sunset in Victoria, B.C. Each province will have their own set time to begin ringing the bells.”
"I don’t think anyone in Newfoundland expected the regiment to go out and get wiped out. They say there wasn’t a family in Newfoundland that wasn’t touched by the tragedy on July 1.”
“Newfoundland lost a whole generation of men, but for the lessons that we learned – so that it never happens again – it was worth it; but then you wish it could have been done in another way."
“We’re not the old organization. Our purpose is still the same, but, through our evolution, we also became the cornerstone of a lot of Canadian communities. We’re where the community meets, greets and mourns and that’s what it’s all about.”
“They have to move with the times. And I think they’ve realized that. And they’re becoming a bit more in tune with the new generation. You know, because in the past there was a focus on perhaps sports that weren’t likely to get the new veterans in, like darts and shuffleboard, so the legion is starting to recognize the need for new platforms like video games and whatnot."
“I don’t think people realize how much the branches donate to their communities. They donate to the schools for playground equipment, help with their breakfast programs and more. They just don’t get the publicity they deserve.”
“We have a lot of military history in my family. The only way I could ever say thank you to my father or my uncle was to join the legion and volunteer and give to them.”
“The legion has to change its attitude towards itself and the way we treat our veterans in order to progress into the future. And we’re doing that through centralizing our focus on younger veterans – those who have fought and served recently, especially those that are returning from overseas now.”
The poppy is still worn as a symbol of remembrance for fallen veterans. The campaign also acts as a major fundraiser for legions across the country, which often act as main distributors of the red flower.