OTTAWA - From big cities to small villages, Canadians of all ages gather today amid the mournful skirl of bagpipes and tears to honour the country's war dead.
Ottawa will be home to the most elaborate Remembrance Day ceremony, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor-General David Johnston will lay wreaths at the National War Memorial.
One ceremony was held early today at Kandahar Airfield — the first such service there since the end of Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay read aloud the names of the Canadian casualties as poppies were placed on each black marble plaque on the cenotaph. Flags were lowered and wreaths were laid in honour of the 158 Canadian military personnel who died during the Afghan mission.
In an interview Thursday, Johnston said members of the military are held in high esteem in society because they represent old-fashioned values in an age of cynicism.
He said Canada's men and women in uniform have a traditional sense of respect for institutions, authority and public trust.
Harper added in a statement that the "values our veterans held decades ago are still very much alive today in those who continue to serve our great country."
And today, added Harper, we sadly remember those "who have paid the ultimate price with their lives."
He notes that in the last century, nearly two million Canadians served in two World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan, Libya and various other conflicts.
In addition to ceremonies at cenotaphs, legion halls and elsewhere today, a huge oil painting called Portraits of Honour will arrive at the War Museum in time for Remembrance Day.
The 10' x 40' mural features hand painted portraits of the 157 Canadian military personnel who died while serving in Afghanistan. The mural was completed before the 158th Canadian military casualty — Edmonton-based Master Cpl. Byron Greff, who was one of 17 people killed Oct. 29 by a suicide bomber in Kabul.
Those who fell on Afghan soil will also be memorialized in Langley, B.C., today with the planting of 157 trees in their honour.
Canada’s honour roll holds the names of more than 114,000 people who gave their lives in the two World Wars, the Korean and Afghanistan conflicts and on peacekeeping missions.