On Remembrance Day, as a nation we take a few moments for recognition and reflection. To remember the courage and sacrifice of those who served their country and acknowledge our responsibility to maintain the peace they fought hard to achieve.
For many of us, war is a phenomenon seen through the lens of a television camera or a journalist’s account. It is something that feels distant or long ago; but for older adults, war touched and changed their lives. Many seniors served in the military and many more have memories of growing up during times of conflict.
Each year, All Seniors Care Living Centres pay tribute to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP who have served and continue to serve our country today.
Why Do We Observe Remembrance Day?
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” 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.
In 1931, the House of Commons changed the name to Remembrance Day. Since then, every year on November 11, Canadians pause for 2 minutes of silence to honour and remember the men and women who served, and continue to serve, Canada during times of war, conflict, and peace. We remember to give their sacrifice meaning.
These Acts of Remembrance also provide:
Respect for Veterans:
ASC retirement residences are home to veterans and their close family members. Remembrance Day is a particularly significant occasion for these individuals, as it acknowledges their sacrifices and the sacrifices of their fallen comrades. Participating in Remembrance Day activities and wearing a poppy can show them that their service is remembered and appreciated.
Preservation of History:
Many residents have lived through wartime or have had family members affected by conflicts. Recognizing Remembrance Day helps to keep these historical memories alive, ensuring that the lessons and stories from the past are not forgotten.
A Sense of Community and Solidarity:
Commemorating this day can foster a sense of community within the residence as individuals come together to honor those who have served. It creates an opportunity for people to share stories, support each other, and feel a collective sense of pride and solemnity.
For younger generations, including staff and visitors, Remembrance Day activities can serve as an educational experience. They offer a chance to learn from the firsthand accounts of residents about the realities of war and the importance of peace.
Remembrance services can inspire feelings of gratitude as both veterans and non-veterans reflect on the peace and freedoms we enjoy, which were secured through the efforts and sacrifices of others.
15 Ways to Honour Remembrance Day
On November 11th, many residences invite families and the public to join us for remembrance services, music, and laying of wreaths. For those who are not able to attend our services, here are some activities inspired by All Seniors Care retirement homes in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
- Remembrance Day Service or Ceremony: Hold a small service within the building. If possible, invite a local official, clergy member, or a representative from a veterans’ organization to speak.
- Two-Minute Silence: At 11 a.m., observe the traditional two minutes of silence to honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
- Do Wear a Poppy: The red poppy is a symbol of both Remembrance and hope for a peaceful future. Poppies are worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces community. While the choice to wear a poppy is a personal one, it a well-established symbol, one that carries a wealth of history and meaning with it. Poppies are usually worn on the left side, over the heart.
- Hold a Reminiscence Group: Create a comfortable setting where veterans and their loved ones can share their experiences and memories if they wish. This can be an informal gathering or a more structured storytelling session.
- Create a Memory Wall: Set up a space where older adults can post photos or names of loved ones who served, along with any narratives or brief histories they would like to share.
- Film Screening: Show a classic film or documentary related to one of the world wars or military history that is appropriate for the audience.
- Music from the Era: Play music from the wartime period. Music can be a powerful trigger for memory and can help residents to reminisce. Be sure to offer support if needed.
- Poetry Reading: Read aloud poems that are associated with Remembrance Day, such as “In Flanders Fields,” and discuss their meanings. Many of our residents write and share poems during Remembrance Day services.
- Letter Writing: Facilitate a session where residents can write letters to current serving military members or to families who have lost loved ones in service.
- Educational Presentation: If feasible, have a guest speaker from Veterans Affairs or your local Legion or an historian come in to talk about the significance of Remembrance Day and its history. This is a great way to pay tribute throughout the year.
- Themed Arts and Crafts: Organize a creative activity that is easy to participate in, such as painting or drawing on themes of remembrance and peace. Crafting poppies can be a therapeutic activity for many veterans, but also a way to proudly show respect through a mindful act. These can be made from paper, fabric, or felt.
- Remembrance Garden: If the facility has outdoor space, consider planting a remembrance garden with poppies and other flowers as a lasting tribute.
- Intergenerational Projects: Involve local schools or youth groups in activities such as making thank-you cards for veterans, which can be distributed to the residents.
- Memorial Service Broadcast: For those unable to attend ceremonies, set up a viewing area where residents can watch national or provincial Remembrance Day services on television or online.
- Memory Book: Compile a memory book with pictures and stories from older adults, particularly focusing on their experiences related to military service or life during wartime.
It’s important to be sensitive to the fact that this day can evoke strong emotions and potentially difficult memories for some individuals. Activities should be inclusive and designed to honor and remember without causing distress. It’s also beneficial to have support available for any seniors who may find the day challenging.
Most importantly, this Saturday, take a moment to reflect on the freedoms and peace in your life, and to remember the men and women who served and sacrificed for all we have today.
At All Seniors Care, we put the effort in to acknowledging special occasions, including Remembrance Day. We do this to create a supportive, respectful, and engaging environment for our residents. If you’re interested in joining one of our senior living communities, click here explore our locations.