Friday 11 November 2016

We Will Remember Them. Their Glory Cannot Fade.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the armistice that ended the First World War came into effect. One year later and every year thereafter, the date was commemorated in Commonwealth countries. It is a day to remember those who were lost and those who came home but were forever changed. A day to tell veterans that we haven't forgotten them. A day to recall the price of war and keep it in our collective memory so that future generations will know that there are better ways to solve their differences.  

Here in Toronto, the day has been marked at the cenotaph at Old City Hall since its unveiling in 1925, as seen in the City of Toronto Archives photo below:

Unveiling of the cenotaph at Old City Hall, Toronto

November 11, 1925
City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 6584

The word 'cenotaph' comes from the Greek words for 'empty tomb.' These structures are common memorials for the dead whose remains are elsewhere. During the First World War, fallen soldiers were buried where they fell, which left tens of thousands of Canadian families without a place to mourn. Cenotaphs built all over the country became the focus of their grief and the representation of the nation's sacrifice.

Here in the archives, we have a program from 1934's Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph:

"We will remember them" "Their glory cannot fade"
Remembrance Day Service
Sixteenth Anniversary of Armistice Day
at the Cenotaph, City Hall
Sunday, November 11th, 1934, at 3 o'clock p.m.

MN TA01.151
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

MN TA01.151
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

MN TA01.151
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

MN TA01.151
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

The program contains a prayer that is needed as much now as it was then:

"Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed; kindle, we pray Thee, in the hearts of all men the true love of peace, and guide with Thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility Thy Kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of Thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Bonus photo from the City of Toronto Archives: Armistice Day, Bay and King Streets

November 11, 1918
Fonds 1244, William James Family, Item 891D 

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