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Thousands, including dignitaries, attend ceremony at Ottawa's National War Memorial

Last Updated Nov 11, 2019 at 9:57 am MST

FILE: Poppies are placed on the National War Memorial following the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – The National War Memorial in Ottawa was the scene of the largest Remembrance Day ceremony in the country, with thousands in attendance at this year’s service.

The streets around the monument were packed as people gathered to pay respects to the 118,000 men and women who died in service to our country.

Along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor-General Julie Payette and the Silver Cross Mother, dignitaries laid wreaths at the memorial following the moment of silence, the playing of the last post, and a flyby from CF18 fighter jets. There will also be a 21-gun salute.

“They fought for the ideals of peace and to defend our liberties,” Payette said in a video message.

“Many were wounded in their body and in their soul. Too many paid the ultimate price. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude. We must never forget their sacrifice and the terrible costs of war. Let us never take freedom for granted and stand up for equality and tolerance.”

Trudeau echoed those sentiments in a separate statement as he credited those who served in uniform with having built peace, defended democracy and enabled countless people to live in freedom in Canada and around the world.

“Today, we pay tribute to our veterans, to those who have been injured in the line of duty, and to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “They stood for liberty and sacrificed their future for the future of others. Their selflessness and courage continue to inspire Canadians who serve today.

READ MORE: Remembering the sacrifices of Canada’s military families

This year’s Silver Cross Mother is Reine Dawe, whose son Jonathan was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

“[He was killed by] a roadside 500-pounder bomb. There were five other killed with him as well. He was a captain in the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI),” explained Danny Martin, ceremony director and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

There were no speeches from politicians in order to keep the focus on veterans and those who died in service.

“The ceremony isn’t there for political purposes whatsoever,” said Martin. “The dignitaries that come are there to show their respect.”

The legion subtly honoured the 75th anniversary of D-Day but didn’t place a major emphasis on it so as to not diminish the sacrifices made in other deadly conflicts.

Martin says the most touching tradition actually comes after the ceremony ends.

“As soon as the site is open to the general public, everyone takes their poppy off and lays it on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s a very poignant moment.”

-with files from the Canadian Press