When the clock strikes at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, a silence will fall over the crowds gathered by cenotaphs and in Legion halls around the country.
The two minutes of silence which follow the playing of the poignant tune of the “Last Post” is then followed by “Reveille”.
The timing of these moments of silence is to mark the moment when the Armistice was signed in 1918 to end the Great War, the so-called “War to End All Wars”, later known as the First World War of a century ago. In the years and decades since then, of course, there have been many other wars, including the six-year Second World War that was ended by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan.
This was followed in turn by the Korean and Vietnam wars, and ongoing civil and regional wars in many locations since then, including most recently in Afghanistan, where Canadian soldiers have served, and some have died or been severely injured.
So why is this still an important moment, as it was clearly not the end of conflicts as the people of the time hoped it would be?
This is a moment when all people can reflect on where we are headed, and where we’ve come from historically.
For many of those who served in the Armed Forces or in wartime, it is a time to pay tribute to fellow men and women who have fallen in combat or were injured in the line of fire, or to reflect on what they experienced or lost during war.
For most people, who have never seen armed conflict and never had to experience its devastating pain and agony, they can think about the kinds of sacrifice that men and women in service have made on their behalf.
The rights and freedoms that we enjoy today in Canada were hard-won and paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of many, many people in these conflicts, and even more recently in conflicts in places like Afghanistan or peace-keeping in countries like Mali.
The observances we make on November 11th are not to glorify war, but to remember what was done on our behalf, and continues to be done by those who serve this nation in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The silence that falls over the land can also signify peace, the ending of a conflict as the guns and planes and tanks fall silent and an ending of war is declared. Everyone hopes and wishes that, with the end of a war, it will indeed be the last time we all have to go through this, but unfortunately this is never the case.
Perhaps this year, during the moments of silence, there will be a peace that falls over the land and we can determine to do better, and live peacefully.