Centre Block on Parliament Hill had snow falling a couple of evenings before Remembrance Day, the evening I took this shot. During the nights leading up to and including Remembrance Day, projections of falling poppies are shone onto the surface of the building from dusk until late in the evening.
This was my first photograph taken on Remembrance Day. I was in the area of the War Memorial earlier than usual, and people were already starting to gather. I noted the glass lantern of the National Arts Centre, which has technology embedded into the glass to allow for the projection of images throughout the year. On Remembrance Day it was poppies falling, already in the morning. Tomorrow I'll show you this by night, but for whatever reason, the poppies seemed to come out better with the camera with this daytime shot.
The National War Memorial is across from the NAC, in the heart of what is called Confederation Square. Inaugurated in 1939 by King George VI a few months before the outset of the Second World War, it was first meant to honour veterans of the First World War. It has been rededicated to honour those who have fallen and those who have served in all Canadian conflicts and in service since then, and it is the site of the national service on November 11th. I took my usual spot for the occasion, on the traffic island on the closed Wellington Street, north of the Memorial grounds. The veterans gathered here beforehand, along with a mixed group of military pipers and drummers. The main body of active servicemen and women, as well as cadets, were off to the south of the Memorial before the service. The musicians led the veterans past onlookers.
The service is coordinated with the military, the government Veterans Affairs ministry, the Legion, and other organizations. An active military servicewoman was the MC this year, and prayers were offered by a military chaplain- in both cases done in English and French. Traditions include the playing of the Last Post, piper's laments, music by a children's choir and military bands, the placing of wreaths both by dignitaries including the governor general and the Silver Cross Mother (a tradition going back decades with a selected mother of a deceased serviceman) and by organizations and diplomatic groups. A 21 gun salute from field artillery set up on Parliament Hill and a flypass of fighter jets are also included, as are two minutes of silence at eleven in the morning. A benediction by a chaplain (in this case, an Ottawa area rabbi who has the right touch with these occasions) concludes the service. Then the march commences off the grounds, with the pipers and drummers leading the veterans past the governor general, whose duties include the status as a ceremonial commander in chief of the military. By this point in the morning, the sun was not being the photographer's friend.
Cadets from the Royal Military College in Kingston follow, with members of each service branch following them.
The marchers include the members of the Ceremonial Guard, the soldiers who are here during the summer conducting the changing of the guard ceremony on Parliament Hill each day. This time of year they're dressed for the weather in these dark coats.
The Mounties are included in the march, with a select number of them in the midst of it. After them come a number of younger cadets, of the sort who attend after school cadets programs. Many people came out for this year's event. Tomorrow I'll show you the Memorial by night when I came back for some final shots for the day.