We were preparing not Peace only, but Eternal Peace. There was about us the halo of some divine mission. We must be alert, stern, righteous and ascetic. We were bent on doing great, permanent noble things.
Harold Nicolson, British delegate to 1919 Paris peace conference
This is not a peace treaty, it is an armistice for 20 years.
Marshal Ferdinand Foch, at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, 1919
The memory of those who fell in the great war will be reverenced in Canada this year by the wearing of a red poppy on Armistice Day, according to plans now being formulated by the Dominion Command, Great War Veterans’ Association. The inauguration of this custom will, war veterans believe, accomplish three worthy objects: First, the custom of wearing a memorial poppy on Armistice Day; secondly, as the poppies will be sold for nominal sums, it will supply a means of providing relief funds for the unemployed this winter; and thirdly, as the poppies will be purchased from the French war orphans, it will go a long way toward the relief of distress in that country.
Canadian Press dispatch, 19 September 1921. Published in Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Journal, Saskatoon Daily Star, Toronto Globe, Victoria Daily Times and others.
On November 11th at eleven in the morning the bells of London rang out their joyous peals, for the armistice had been signed and the war was over. There was wild rejoicing in the city and the crowds went crazy with delight. But it seemed to me that behind the ringing of those peals of joy there was the tolling of spectral bells for those who would return no more. The monstrous futility of war as a test of national greatness, the wound in the world’s heart, the empty homes, those were the thoughts which in me overmastered all feelings of rejoicing.
Frederick George Scott,The Great War As I Saw It, Ch XXXV. Victory. November 11th, 1918.
Five of eight Books of Remembrance in Ottawa. WW1 book on the right.
For a few weeks this August, Great War 100 Reads is revisiting some sites, to explore additional or altered elements of remembrance.
TheMemorial Chamberin Ottawa’s Peace Tower has been a star feature in several Monday posts, for its architectural details and as home of the Books of Remembrance. The 24-foot square chamber soars up 47 feet to a fan vaulted ceiling. The 17 niches in the walls around the room are decorated with elaborate stone carvings. Three stained glass windows depict the Call to Arms, the Assembly of Remembrance and the Dawn of Peace. Architect John Pearson envisioned the space as a sacred grove with a central altar surrounded by design elements that rise to protect it. Continue reading →
Peace Tower, Ottawa (no, there is not this much snow in Ottawa on 11 November)
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, when the guns of the Great War at last fell silent, the fury of conflict was replaced by a deafening silence. In that fragile gap between the sounds of dying and the cries of relief, we were faced with all we had done, all we had lost, all we had sacrificed.
In that silence, we met a truth so obvious and so terrifying we swore we would never take up arms again.
“One owes respect to the living,” said Voltaire. “To the dead, one owes only the truth.”
Newfoundland Book of Remembrance, Peace Tower, Ottawa (p 65)
Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance, Peace Tower, Ottawa (p 52)
Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance, Peace Tower, Ottawa (p 53)
But now, though the War has almost passed from living memory, these men and women are still remembered: For their lives meant more than the War in which they died, and their deaths more than can be known. (Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance, English dedication page)
The lessons which the people of England have to learn are patience, self-sacrifice, and confidence in our ability to win in the long run. The aim for which the war is being waged is the destruction of German militarism. Three years of war and the loss of one-tenth of the manhood of the nation is not too great a price to pay in so great a cause.
Sir Douglas Haig, May 1916
I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon earth though the years to come than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.
George V at Tyne Cot Cemetery, May 1922
In this week of remembrance, may we learn from war as we strive for peace … and freedom and democracy and equality and justice.
Recording Angel and War Widow by Frances Loring, Peace Tower, Ottawa
Enter the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa, turn around and look up to see two sculptures by Frances Loring. In the gable tympanum is the Recording Angel, inscribing the names of the fallen in the Book of Remembrance. On the finial above is the War Widow and Children, also called Motherhood.Continue reading →