Remembrance Day for Canada as to Araw ng Kagitingan for the Philippines
Happy Remembrance Day Canada!
Here’s how I look at why it’s very important to celebrate Remembrance Day or Araw ng Kagitingan.. if you are enjoying your freedom right now and living in peace.. then you should feel very blessed and be grateful to the men and women who served and sacrificed for all that we have today.
Today, Canada is celebrating Remembrance Day. Here in British Columbia Canada, Remembrance Day is a federal statutory holiday so people can find time to celebrate. This day is dedicated to the commemoration of the members of the armed forces (soldiers, sailors and airmen). Also known as the Armistice Day which marks the date and time when armies stopped fighting World War I on November 11th at 11am in 1918 (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month). Some 100,000 Canadian soldiers died in the First and Second World Wars.
Today, a Remembrance Day ceremony was held in Downtown Vancouver, although it looked different than events of years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials asked residents to “remember in place” at home and watch the public service online.
Here in Canada, everyone wears a poppy flower on their jacket/ lapels, to show their appreciation and love to the Veterans. You can get the poppy flower pins at stores or supermarket entrances or cashiers, sometimes offered by school children holding trays filled with poppies and a donation box for whatever amount you can share for the Veterans.
You may also see public utility vehicles posting “Lest We Forget” on the screens in the front of buses and trains to commemorate the occasion.
Each November, Poppies bloom on the lapels and collars of millions of Canadians. The significance of the Poppy can be traced back to the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, over 110 years before being adopted in Canada. Records from that time indicate how thick Poppies grew over the graves of soldiers in the area of Flanders, France. Fields that had been barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. During the tremendous bombardments of the war, the chalk soils became rich in lime from rubble, allowing the “popaver rhoeas” to thrive. When the war ended, the lime was quickly absorbed and the Poppy began to disappear again.
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In the Philippines, the Veteran’s Day is called Day of Valor, translated as ‘Araw ng Kagitingan’ in Filipino (or Tagalog). It is considered an official regular nationwide holiday and celebrated annually on April 9th. The holiday may also be known as ‘Bataan Day‘ or ‘Bataan and Corregidor Day’. It commemorates the fall of the Bataan peninsula during the second world war.
Most schools and government buildings are closed on The Day Of Valor, but other business usually remain open. Most people in the Philippines celebrate this day by holding street parades, visiting various monuments or treating it as a family day by spending leisure time at malls or other entertainment venues. As for our family, we just stay home, have a rest day and watch celebrations on television.
I remember my Lolo and Lola’s scary stories about the Japanese occupation. Their family, including my mother and uncle, were forced to leave their home in Norzagaray Bulacan to go up to the mountains and hide from the Japanese soldiers invading the town. I can just imagine the fear and hardship of walking for hours without your basic necessities with you, carrying the small children as you struggle to find a safe place to stay or spend the night. I’m sure some of you can relate to these stories of your grandparents.
History of the Day of Valor
At dawn on April 9th 1942, Major General King, of the United States Army was forced to surrender his forces of over 76,000 Filipino, Chinese and American soldiers to the Japanese. Unprepared for the number of prisoners, the Japanese decided to walk the prisoners 150 km to a prison camp in San Fernando. Over 20,000 prisoners died on this march either through starvation, exhaustion or at the hands of the Japanese. The trek became infamous as the ‘Bataan Death March’.
While the holiday marks an event which was a victory for the opposing forces, the heroic defence of Bataan by those soldiers was seen as a key event in the war, as it allowed the allies time to prepare for later battles which halted the Japanese progress in the pacific and eventually led to a turn in the fortunes and allied victory. The Bataan peninsula was eventually retaken by American and Filipino forces on February 8th 1945.
Thank You to our fallen heroes. We salute you.
Speaking of celebrations.. see my other posts about tips on decorating for this coming Christmas celebration. Or learn how I made a delicious Thanksgiving turkey that you can also serve for Christmas.