Teaching students about the significance of Remembrance Day and Canadian History in an age-appropriate manner is important, yet sometimes it’s challenging to know where to start. We bet there are some facts in this kid-friendly list that you didn’t know about World War I and Remembrance Day that will also help explain the importance!
1 – Remembrance Day was originally called Armistice Day
The first one was celebrated in 1919. It was originally to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
2 – World War 1 Started over 100 years ago
Even though that seems a long, long time, your great grandparents would have seen the conflict! (That’s your grandparent’s parents.) The war first started on August 4, 1914.
3 – The assassination of a leader started a 4-year world war
A young Serbian patriot assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The Archduke was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many countries had signed defense pacts with one another in Europe at the time to come to their allies’ aid in time of war. When the Archduke fell, his death sparked the war, immediately drawing all the countries who had signed military agreements into conflict.
The two sides were The Allies (The Entente Powers): Great Britain, France, Belgium, Russia and the USA.
And the Central Powers: Germany, Austria Hungary, Bulgaria and The Ottoman Empire.
4 – World War I drastically changed the way wars were fought
Before World War 1, most wars were fought with men lined up on the battlefield against one another. World War 1 brought a lot of new and deadly technology, including tanks, machine guns, and chemical weapons. Trench warfare was used to try to protect soldiers from that new technology.
5 – Fortunately, we also learned some new medical practices in WWI
Because of trench conditions and the poisonous gas, many deaths and amputations came from infection – not the original injury to the soldier. Two major innovations that came to battlefield medicine in World War I were antiseptic and anesthesia. Henry Dakin is the English chemist that we have to thank for antiseptic. For when Alexis Carrel, a French surgeon, sent a request for a chemist, it was irrigating wounds with sodium hypochlorite that began saving lives. George Crile was the pioneering doctor who invented what these days is called “balanced anesthesia.”
6 – Thanksgiving was moved by the Canadian government so it would not coincide with Remembrance Day
Before the holiday changed, Thanksgiving and Armistice Day were recognized jointly, although the observances were small and often personal. The name was changed to Remembrance Day in 1931 and Thanksgiving moved to October.
7 – Some countries who aren’t Commonwealth members also observe Remembrance Day
Poland, Belgium, and France are among them!
8 – Remembrance Day has since then expanded to recognize all military veterans
On Remembrance Day, we remember the more than 2,300,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice, no longer just those who died in WWI.
9 - The national ceremony is held every year at the National War Memorial in Ottawa
According to Veterans Affairs Canada, the Governor General of Canada presides over the ceremony, and it is also attended by the Prime Minister, other government officials, representatives of Veterans’ organizations, diplomatic representatives, other dignitaries, Veterans as well as the general public.
10 – The Poppy is a special symbol of remembrance, and turns 100 this year
The Poppy’s original significance comes from the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. This year is special and marks the 100th anniversary of becoming a symbol of Remembrance, learn more here.
11 – You can still donate to the Poppy Campaign
It is tradition from the last Friday of October until November 11th for Canadians to wear a Poppy to respect and honour those who served. Poppies are given for free, so everyone has access to wear them. However, donations are appreciated by the Royal Canadian Legion to help support living Veterans who have served over the years and their families, too! You can still Donate to the Poppy Campaign here.
If you also want to make a Poppy for Remembrance Day with children, try one of these handy crafts!
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