Minister Poilievre participates in commemorative ceremony and John McCrae statue unveiling
May 3, 2015 – Ottawa – Veterans Affairs Canada
The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Member of Parliament (Nepean-Carleton) and Regional Minister for Ottawa, on behalf of the Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today attended a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Ypres.
During the ceremony, Minister Poilievre joined in the unveiling of a statue to mark the 100th anniversary of the writing of In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who served in the First World War. McCrae’s poem has come to be immortalized around the world as a symbol of service and sacrifice.
Some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, during what is known as the Second Battle of Ypres. It was here the Germans first used deadly chlorine gas against Allied troops. Despite the debilitating effects of the gas, Canadian soldiers fought relentlessly and held the line. McCrae was a major at the time of this well-known battle.
- John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields on May 3, 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres. He was inspired to write the poem following the death of his close friend and former student, who was killed in battle and buried in a makeshift grave amid poppies which were already beginning to bloom.
- John McCrae’s poignant poem helped bring home the realities of war to the world. As a result, the poppy went on to become an important symbol of remembrance in many countries, honouring those who lost their lives in battle.
- John McCrae joined the Highfield Cadet Corps at age 14 and, at 17, he enlisted in the local militia artillery unit commanded by his father, Lieutenant-Colonel David McCrae. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1893 and in 1899, he volunteered to fight in the South African War. In September 1914, John McCrae again volunteered to serve, this time for what is now known as the First World War.
- The successful stand at Ypres came at great cost. In the course of 48 hours, more than 2,000 made the ultimate sacrifice and 4,000 were wounded.
- The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery received $31,351, through Veterans Affairs Canada’s Community Engagement Partnership Fund, to help with the costs of the unveiling ceremony for the John McCrae Statue.
“During the Second Battle of Ypres, under extremely difficult conditions, Canadians made an incredible mark on the world stage as a courageous military force. John McCrae’s stirring work, In Flanders Fields, will forever hold the torch of remembrance high for all who have sacrificed for peace and freedom.”
The Honourable Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
“Today’s ceremony was a great opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the Second Battle of Ypres and to pay tribute to John McCrae’s, In Flanders Fields. His iconic poem truly honours the service of all Canada’s Veterans and preserves their legacy for future generations. Canadians will now have the opportunity to enjoy this statue and honour John McCrae’s contribution to our shared history.”
The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Member of Parliament (Nepean-Carleton) and Regional Minister for Ottawa
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Office of the Minister of Veterans of Affairs
Veterans Affairs Canada