Friday, 20 May 2016

Memorial Day - A Day to Remember

I am a Canadian and I live in the United Kingdom. I find it interesting to learn about the different holidays that each country has. In America, people are getting ready for Memorial Day weekend. What does that look like in other countries? Is there such a holiday or celebration?

I decided to ask my good friend Google about Memorial Day and I was surprised to learn that different countries have different days to observe their equivalent. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died while serving their country in the Armed Forces.

In Australia and New Zealand, they celebrate ANZAC Day. ANZAC is the name that was given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers. They landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey early on the morning of 25 April 1915 during the First World War (1914-1918). There is a commemorative service at dawn on the 25th of April because that is the time they landed in 1915.

In Canada there are two days, one is Remembrance Day which is observed on the 11th of November (11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) and another day is Vimy Ridge Day. That is a relatively new day and people only started observing that in 2003. It is an unofficial day. Vimy Ridge day is on the 9th of April. Canadians remember their lost soldiers from the Battle of Vimy Ridge from WWI.

Remembrance Day is a Commonwealth of Nations celebration and takes place on 11th of November. It is also known as Poppy Day (for obvious reasons). It evolved out of Armistice Day which is also on 11th November. Armistice Day commemorates the armistice of WWI (11th November 1918) An armistice is a formal agreement of warring parties to stop fighting.

In the Netherlands, they have Dodenherdenking which is on 4th of May. The royal family attends a ceremony held at the national monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam and at 8 p.m., the entire country grinds to a halt for two minutes in respect to those who died in wars or peacekeeping missions. Public transportation doesn't run and television and radio stations don't broadcast anything. It was orignally intended to honour those who were killed in WWII but now has evolved to be a day to honour the fallen from all wars. The Dutch also celebrate Liberation Day on 5th of May and that is a day to celebrate the Canadian Army (largely the Canadian Army) freed the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in WWII. It was an event that was celebrated every five years, however, since 1990 it is an annual celebration.

In Germany, there is a day called Volkstrauertag (literally Peoples' Sadness Day). This day was intended to be a day to remember those who died in WWI and there was a misunderstanding of how to go about observing it and it turned into Heldengedenktag, the Day of Commemoration of Heroes or a day of hero worship. This ended in 1945 and in 1948 Volkstrauertag was brought back to be observed with the original intent.

In France, they celebrate Victory Day which is a day to mark the end of WWII and the end of the Nazi occupation of France. It is a day that is celebratory and also a day of remembering those who died during WWII. It became an official national holiday in 1982 and is celebrated on 8th of May. It is the anniversary of when Charles de Gaulle announced the end of World War II in France on May 8, 1945.

I found lots of references to Armed Forces days in many countries, but I decided to focus on a few countries for this post as I didn't want to overwhelm people.  :-)

I have personally taken part in Remembrance Sunday which is the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day (11th November). I play in a brass band, and we as a band march to collect the troops and we march with them around a one mile block to the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph. We accompany the everyone while they are singing hymns. At the end of the service, we march with the troops back to the place where we collected them from. It is a very moving experience to stand and look out at all of the troops. There are Cubs, Scouts, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, and the serving Armed Forces along with the veterans. It is truly a sight to behold when I look out and see the sea of personnel and spectators. I count it as an honour to have the privilege of playing in that brass band on that Sunday.

Through writing this post, I have learned that so many countries have their own special Memorial Day or Day of Remembrance. Here is a photo of a poppy that I took when I was in France:

This is part of the Unit Study Roundup and the topic is Memorial Day. Please take some time to read the posts from the other members of this roundup:

Memorial Day Preschool Cutting Practice from 3 Boys and a Dog

How to Make a DIY Patriotic T-Shirt from Crafty Mama in ME

Ripped Paper Star Wreath Craft For Kids from Play Dough & Popsicles

Top 10 Outdoor Activities for Kids for Memorial Day Weekend from FrogMom

Memorial Day Books for Children from The Jenny Evolution

Memorial Day - A Day to Remember from Tales of Education at Home

Red, White and Blue Craft for Kids from CraftCreateCalm

F is for Flag Handwriting Letter Mazes from Simple Fun for Kids

Memorial Day Worksheet from Schooling a Monkey

Memorial Day Word Search from Something 2 Offer