Nova Scotia

Lest We Forget are words to live by, Remembrance Day crowd told

As thousands stood around the Halifax cenotaph on Sunday, Jay Tofflemire of the Royal Canadian Legion urged Nova Scotians to live out the words Lest We Forget.

It's been 100 years since WWI ended and Canada was forever changed, says Jay Tofflemire

Peter Weal, a retired army captain, salutes as he participates in Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Grand Parade in Halifax on Sunday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

As thousands stood around the Halifax cenotaph on Sunday, Nova Scotians were urged to live out the words, Lest We Forget.

The old expression "is meaningless unless we take action to ensure that our wars for peace and justice never become merely a faded photograph," said Jay Tofflemire, the first vice president of Nova Scotia and Nunavut Command, reading a statement written by Major Ken Hynes, chief curator of the Army Museum Halifax Citadel. 

The remarks opened this year's Remembrance Day ceremony at the Halifax Grand Parade. All across the province, veterans and civilians came together to honour those who served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Poppies are left on a cross in Halifax. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The large crowd in Halifax stood silent and bundled against the bitter November wind as the 1st Field Artillery Regiment fired a 21-gun salute from Citadel Hill at 11 a.m. 

The service ended with dignitaries and representatives laying wreaths around the cenotaph.

This year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, a significant event that forever changed how Canada saw itself and the world, said Tofflemire.

He said it wasn't so long ago that service men and women stood in the very same spot in Halifax on their way to war. Of the 30,000 Nova Scotians who volunteered in the WW I effort, 3,000 never came home.

Trevor Tracey releases doves during the ceremony. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The statistics during wartime are staggering — from 1914 until now, 113,000 Canadians have died and 234,000 more have been injured or are missing.

"As long as we are free, we owe a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid. At the very least, we owe them a promise to remember the human costs of war and never repeat the mistakes that led to armed conflict," said Tofflemire. 

A poem for PTSD survivors

Sara Pluta, a student from Port Hawkesbury, read a poem about post-traumatic stress disorder as part of the ceremony.

The poem is about a veteran struggling with PTSD who speaks up and gets the help he needs. 

"After I wrote the poem I had a lot of people come up to me and just thank me and tell me they shared it with their family and friends who are struggling with it," said Pluta. 

A young member of the Girl Guides' Sparks program participates in the ceremony in Halifax. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The 14-year-old said it's important for young people to respect and take part in Remembrance Day.

Later today, Bells of Peace commemorative ceremonies will be held in communities across the province and Canada to mark the moment 100 years ago when the bells rang to signify the First World War had ended.

Beginning at sundown, the bells will ring at Parliament Hill, city halls, places of worship, military bases, naval vessels and at ceremonies.

With files from Elizabeth McMillan