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Organizing a Remembrance Day Ceremony

Activity

Tools and suggestions for planning an in-person or virtual Remembrance Day ceremony for a class, school or other group

Planning a Remembrance Day Ceremony

You can use the resources from this web module to create a Remembrance Day ceremony.

When planning the ceremony, start from the most important element — the two minutes of silence, observed at 11 a.m. – and build out from there. Select other elements from among the resources and suggestions listed below. Consider also whether you have access to any special contributors in your school or community that could be incorporated into the ceremony, such as a choir or drama group who could perform, or a veteran or current serving military member who could speak.

Building Blocks for a Remembrance Day Ceremony

Two Minutes of Silence

Length: 2 minutes

The two minutes of silence should be observed on 11 November at 11 a.m. Before the minutes begin, provide students with context by explaining the historical significance and directing their thoughts as follows:

The First World War ended on 11 November 1918 at 11 a.m. Today, we honour the country’s sacrifice in all wars and conflicts with two minutes of silence at that time. Use this time to think about the contributions of the men and women who have served in the Canadian military, the sacrifices made in war and how we might strive for a more peaceful world. Please stand for two minutes of silence.

Music

Length: varies

The minutes of silence are often immediately followed by the national anthem (“O Canada”) or a solemn piece of music (for example, “The Last Post”). The Legion website offers links to songs for use in the ceremony: https://www.legion.ca/remembrance/remembrance-day/ceremony-music

Wreath Laying

Length: 5-10 minutes

Wreath laying is a traditional part of a Remembrance Day ceremony. During a school-wide assembly, representatives from each class bring a wreath to the front of the room and lay them at the foot of a designated area. This is sometimes done by students who are cadets or members of similar organizations. The wreaths may be made by students (for example, decorated with poppies made by the students) or purchased from the Legion.

Media Presentation

Length: 3-5 minutes per selection

Select from among the media presentations in the Canadian War Museum Remembrance web module’s Every Object Tells a Story series to share stories of wartime service and sacrifice. You can use one or several, and show them in a block, or intersperse them throughout the ceremony.

Reading

Length: 1- 3 minutes per selection

The poem “In Flanders Fields” is traditionally read at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

  • “In Flanders Fields”: Canada’s most famous war poem, written in 1915 by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. See the Appendix for the full text of the poem in English and French.

You may want to supplement the reading with other selections from the Remembrance Day resources. Suggested readings:

  • Letter, 4 June 1944: Paratrooper Leslie Neufeld wrote this letter home before he was dropped into Normandy, France on D-Day (6 June 1944). It was his last letter home—he was one of the 359 Canadian army servicemen killed on D-Day.
  • Letter, 19 February 1944: Peggy Rainville wrote this letter to her husband, Guy, while he was missing in action after his aircraft was shot down over Germany. She expresses the worry and uncertainty of military families.
  • Diary, 13 April 2009: Martin Rouleau writes about the death of his roommate, Karine Blais, while serving in Afghanistan. He expresses the bonds between service personnel and feelings of survivor’s guilt.

Activity – Discussing Art and Photographs

Length: 10-20 minutes for one painting or photograph.

For a ceremony with a small group, rather than a school-wide ceremony, a discussion around an artwork or photograph can be a powerful way of introducing concepts of service, sacrifice and remembrance. Select one or two paintings or photographs from the Remembrance Day Module.

Suggested Ceremony Scenarios

Scenario 1: In the Classroom

Length: 30 minutes

10:40-10:55 Activity – Discussing Art and Photographs facilitated discussion of the painting The Flag
10:55-10:58 Watch Every Object Tells a Story: Teddy
10:58-11:01 Introduce and stand for two minutes of silence
11:01-11:03 Sing “O Canada”
11:03-11:05 Read “In Flanders Fields”
11:05-11:10 Watch Every Object Tells a Story: Tombstone of the Unknown Soldier

Scenario 2: School-wide Assembly (short)

Length: 30 minutes

10:45-10:48Welcome remarks (refer to Remembrance Backgrounder for the history of Remembrance Day)
10:48-10:52Watch Every Object Tells a Story: Tombstone of the Unknown Soldier
10:52-10:56Reading of “In Flanders Fields” and/or archival letter
10:56-11:01Introduce and stand for two minutes of silence
11:01-11:04Singing of “O Canada”
11:04-11:08Watch Every Object Tells a Story (Artifact of your choice)
11:08-11:10Closing remarks

Scenario 3: School-wide Assembly (long)

Length: 45 minutes

10:45-10:50Welcome remarks (refer to Remembrance Backgrounder for History of Remembrance Day)
10:50-10:54Watch Every Object Tells a Story: Tombstone of the Unknown Soldier
10:54-10:59Reading of “In Flanders Fields” and/or archival letter
10:59-11:01Introduce and stand for two minutes of silence
11:01-11:04Singing of “O Canada”
11:04-11:10Wreath Laying
11:15-11:25Special presentation: choir, drama club or special guest
11:25-11:29Watch Every Object Tells a Story (Artifact of your choice)
11:29-11:30Closing Remarks

Scenario 4: Virtual Ceremony

Length: 30 minutes

10:45-11:00Watch Every Object Tells a Story (all artifacts)
11:00-11:01Observe two minutes of silence
11:01-11:15Activity: How to Analyze a Primary Source or How to Analyze an Artifact