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Canadians observe Remembrance Day each year on Nov. 11. Once known as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day honors deceased military members, living veterans and current armed forces personnel.
Millions will observe Remembrance Day this November, and the following facts can help them gain a greater understanding of the holiday.
•Remembrance Day has a lengthy history in Canada. Armistice Day was first commemorated in Canada in 1919, when King George V urged all countries in the British Commonwealth, including Canada, to observe the day.
•The name of the holiday was changed from Armistice Day to Remembrance Day in 1931.
•The choice to commemorate the holiday that eventually became Remembrance Day on Nov. 11 has symbolic meaning. According to the government of Canada, the choice reflects the signing of the armistice agreement on Nov. 11, 1918, which called for an end to hostilities at 11 a.m. – which happens to be the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The armistice ended World War I, though fighting continued for hours after the agreement was reached and the Treaty of Versailles, which was the formal peace treaty that ended the war, was not signed until 1919.
•The poppy symbolizes Remembrance Day. Though the red poppy symbolizes Memorial Day in the United States, where Veterans Day is observed on Nov. 11, the poppy is worn in Canada on Remembrance Day to honor fallen service members.
•The poppy has Canadian roots, as a 1915 poem referred to the fields of poppies growing around the graves of World War I soldiers in Flanders. That poem was written by a Canadian lieutenant colonel named John McCrae.
•A national ceremony is held each year at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The governor general of Canada, who presides over the ceremony, and the prime minister are among the notable officials to attend each year.
•A column of veterans, members of the Canadian Armed forces, officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, cadets march to the memorial.
•France, Belgium, Poland and the United Kingdom also observe Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.