Remembrance in Three Movements

This video ( view in enlarge screen) was created for a Canadian High School Remembrance Service. It portrays Sacrifice and Remembrance in three movements. The first depicts the Sacrifice & Remembrance of those who survived the conflict. The second movement depicts the Loss & Remembrance of those whose loved ones never returned. The last movement conveys the voices of the Fallen . This video attempted to create a emotional connection for the students and to show the connection between the generation that were in the First & Second Wars with those that at the time, were serving in the Canadian military in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The video was sufficiently effective that it was used twice, before I retired from teaching at Elliot Lake Secondary School.


First Movement : The accompanying audio is a the song, Friends Ain’t Supposed To Die Till They’re Old. It is from the classic Canadian Musical drama, Billy Bishop Goes To War. It is performed by the creators/stars of the musical, John Gray and Eric Peterson . It captures the the pain of surviving an armed conflict & living with the memories & loss.


Billy Bishop was the WWI Canadian Flying Ace. WWI was the war that in many ways brought Canada into its first stages as a mature independent country. We paid a terrible price in young Canadian lives in reaching this stage of development. Canadians & their history are forever tied to the “War to end Wars”. Remembrance Day – when the nation stands and remembers on the eleventh day of eleventh month at the eleventh hour. The children call it Poppy Day. Educators do their best to make sure their students understand the significance of the Red Poppy & know the poem, In Flanders Fields written by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae, a doctor with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, in the midst of the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium, in May 1915.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the dead: Short days ago,

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved: and now we lie

In Flanders fields!


Take up our quarrel with the foe

To you, from failing hands, we throw

The torch: be yours to hold it high

If ye break faith with us who die,

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

The Fallen - 21st century

Second Movement : The accompanying audio is Irving Berlin‘s When I lost You. It is performed by Andrea Marcovicci. The song captures the longing & loss of anyone whose lives & relationships have been the collateral damage military conflict. The main part of the footage for this sequence was from the Battle of the Somme . The battle lasted five months, maimed or killed more than a million soldiers and placed young men on both sides in the middle of a protracted hell. It was difficult to tell victor from vanquished, The Germans had 660,000 dead or wounded. The Allies (including Britain, France and Canada) had 623,907 casualties including 24,000 dead or wounded Canadians, representing a quarter of the Canadian contingent. (Source)


Final Movement: The accompanying audio is Remember Me performed by the Canadian Tenors. We had the opportunity to hear them live in Elliot Lake, before they became international stars. They closed with this song and their moving performance fits perfectly with the final movement. As in John McCrae’s poem, it is the Remembrance of those that did not make it home that we must constantly re-evaluate. Why were they sent ? How were things altered ? If politics & the interest of business have failed them, we must hold those leaders accountable. We can not blame the Fallen for the flaws of our society and its leaders. We must Remember & act accordingly.

12 thoughts on “Remembrance in Three Movements

  1. leecleland

    Very well done on such an important topic. We should never forget the sacrifices made by others for us even though they were far away from their home countries.
    In Australia we have the same Remembrance Day formalities on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month as Canada and UK. I also learnt the same poem ‘In Flanders Field’ when in primary school (50+ years ago), but it is no longer taught to students here. A great shame.

    1. elmediat

      Thanks very much. We have not brought armed conflict to an end, just made it more technologically advanced. The issue then is controlling the causes and making sure that those in charge are not using emotions & ideas to stoke military action.

    1. elmediat

      Thanks very much. I produced the video as a component of the whole presentation. We had other presenters & the school band. The second time the video was used two students performed an alternative music in accompaniment with the video.

    1. elmediat

      Thanks very much John. I think part of the differences in attitude towards the military rests with changes in media technology and how that alters the emotional impact of warfare. The American Civil War was the first photographed war. WWI was the first filmed war. WWII was primarily communicated through radio news & press.Radio creates strong emotional involvement, that depends on the narrative voice to build a picture in the theatre of the mind. Vietnam Conflict was the first televised war. Television creates very strong visual & emotional impact, especially when the footage is live/raw. To present that kind of imagery in people’s living-rooms greatly effects how they respond. The Iraq & Afghanistan wars could end-up on YouTube & Facebook in a very personal manner. This again changes the emotional interaction with those at home & those directly involved.
      Depending on how governments & businesses react and interact with these different streams of information leads to very different public perceptions of the goals of the military action & the public perception of those individuals taking direct participation in the conflict.
      For those directly involved in warfare, there are no winners, just survivors. Veterans of war, be they military or civilian, pay a terrible price. Take care.

      1. Wow, Joe, this is really an astute and insightful commentary! I hadn’t thought about how media shaped the general public’s response to a war and its soldiers. Your comments would make a great blog post.

  2. We all memorized “In Flanders Fields” as school children. Today, war is so abstract to most people that the emotional narrative in such works is lost on young people. I often wonder where that disconnect will take us…

    1. elmediat

      The one hope that I have is that social media provides the potential to create personal connections. My worry is that cultural images & entertainment seems to lack a strong voice for social activism. Compared to the wave of social activism that was expressed through popular music & the arts in the 60s, the activism of today seems manufactured & strangely detached, better organized & less emotionally/creatively connected . Am I getting old ? 🙂

    1. elmediat

      Thanks Gavin. With the recent death of Leonard Cohen, his rendition of In Flanders Fields is getting airplay today. He did the recording for the Legion Magazine and it can be found online. A very powerful reading of the poem, now with the added context of his own death and the ugly echo of the recent American election.

      Take care.

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