This week Canadians and other members of the British Commonwealth honour our veterans on Remembrance Day, November 11th. This day originates from the armistice agreement that ended WWI on Monday, November 11, 1918 at 11 am – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
The Poppy as the symbol for remembrance arose from the observations of how fast poppies grew over the graves of fallen soldiers. Upon burying his friend in the Flanders region of Belgium, Canadian soldier, doctor and poet Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields.
Image and Poem from wikipedia.com
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.
Remembrance Day ceremonies take place throughout out communities in memorial parks, cenotaphs, communities centres, workplaces and schools. This year may be a little different due to pandemic restrictions, so we all need to ensure that we set time aside “to observe a moment of silence to mark the sacrifice of the many who have fallen in the service of their county, and to acknowledge the courage of those who still serve.” Legion.ca
In our high school setting, we usually have a solemn ceremony with dignitaries including a soldier who shares their experience with us. Students and staff wear poppies in respect and remembrance. We reflect on the cost of war through videos produced by students in the Communication Technology classes, through music by the vocal classes and band classes, and spoken word and reflections from students and teachers from the Social Science department.
All of that is changed this year, there are no after-school sessions to perfect the videos, there is no group indoor singing, there are no assemblies. On November 11th, only one cohort will be present, with the other at home with online learning. Those who are in school that day will have left the building by 11 am, the time of the official two minutes of silence.
Rest assured, our staff has pivoted and has been using social media to prepare our students for this important day and each teacher will be sharing a Remembrance Day Video with their students online. The day will begin with the National Anthem sung by a student over the PA and there will be reflections read by a grade 12 student reservist and a teacher, culminating in the trumpet Last Post, after the moment of silence.
Usually by now, we have donated and worn and lost many poppies. We often see people of all ages wearing the poppy. This year, I have hardly seen any, which goes to show how little people are frequenting the establishments that sell them, or how little I get out and about. Maybe they are out there, I’m just not seeing them.
To bring awareness of the importance of wearing a poppy, my students will be making felt poppies that can be worn on the lapel. They will research and compare real poppies to the simplified one used in Poppy Campaigns and will create their own version. In preparation for this, I created a few examples and made a few stop-motion videos to show the steps. Each one is created using polyester felt, some have darting and folds and while others have simple cuts to add dimension and details. Embroidery floss is used but sewing thread will also work. I used minimal stitches to hold each one together. These are great crafts for beginners. To make one as a wearable pin, you can use jewellery fastenings or safety pins.
To all our service men and women and all their families, thank you for your service and sacrifices.
This Wednesday November 11 is Remembrance Day. Whether you chose to watch local ceremonies on screen or participate in a community event, know that we are all united in honouring our veterans and fallen soldiers at 11 am.
Find out more about the Poppy Campaign here.
Click here to join my newsletter and gain access to 5 PDF patterns and step by step instructions in the Felt Poppy Workbook.
I'll be posting more videos on Instagram and Facebook for those who would like to see the steps in action.
Thanks for coming by,