On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, Canadians will pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by men and women for the very freedoms we enjoy today.
This year's Remembrance Day has special significance, with 2018 marking 100 years since hostilities were officially ceased between the Allies and Germany, effectively ending World War 1, or The Great War. The Armistice was signed into force at 11:00 AM in Compiegne, France, on November 11th, 1918. However, the war wasn't properly over until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June of 1919, over 40 million casualties later.
"Unfortunately, as a civilization, we haven't learned much," reflects Craig Bird, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, a history buff, police sergeant, and himself a member of the Canadian Forces Reserves.
"The Great War was supposed to be the 'one and only one', and we ended up having World War 2. We're still in conflict today, in Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few, in the fight against terrorists. The loss of life, it affects all the communities in Canada. We've lost people here in the Estevan area in Afghanistan, we're in the midst of updating our cenotaph to include those people as well, but it's a sad reminder of the state of affairs of the world today, that we're still having conflict after those huge and horrendous battles of World War One, Two, and Korea. We're still losing people."
Bird joined the Royal Regina Rifles as a Primary Reservist in the Canadian military right out of high school, and eventually transferred to over to become the Commanding Officer of Estevan's Army Cadets. His interest and research into the Great War and the contributions from the southeast has resulted in a personal mission to educate others, especially young people, about the history of sacrifices made.
"It just makes it a little more personal when you can talk to people that have had relatives in the First World War from down here. My family has had people serve in WW1 as well, so that brings it a little bit closer to home. Working with (Army) Cadets and whatnot, making sure that all veterans, not just the World War One vets, don't get forgotten and to pass that information on to our younger generation so they can appreciate and remember as well."
To mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice this year, the Estevan branch of the Royal Canadian Legion has additional ceremonies planned to supplement the annual event.
"The Remembrance Day service up at the Comp is going to be a little bit different, because we're taking part in the gymnasium this year, and the whole service is going to be in the gymnasium instead of splitting it up (between the cafeteria and courtyard) like we have in the past," shares Bird.
"We're also going to have some World War 1 memorabilia out on display, in the gymnasium as well as at the Legion, so that you can kind of put a face to some of it. Unfortunately we don't have any World War 1 veterans left that we can talk to, but we have some of their personal items, so we can put those on display as well and make it a little bit more real."
"It'll be interesting. I am going to be a guest speaker there as well, to talk a little bit about World War One and the contributions here in the southeast," he adds, encouraging everyone to attend and commemorate the milestone of history.