OTTAWA - A large hushed crowd converged around the National War Memorial in Ottawa on a chilly Sunday as the country paused for a moment to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Elderly veterans stood alongside young service members as flags flew at half-mast in the nation's capital to mark Remembrance Day.

"The younger veterans and the older veterans, they meet today in mutual respect and admiration as partners in the battle against evil. They are Canada's best," Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Honorary Chaplain of Dominion Command, told the crowd.

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  • A member of the armed forces forms inspects wreaths ahead of a Remembrance Day dawn service at Prospect Cemetery in Toronto, on Sunday November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • People gather around the war monument during a Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown St. John's, NL, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

  • Veterans salute as they take part in the National Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

  • The Canadian flag is lowered to half mast during a Remembrance Day dawn service at Prospect Cemetery in Toronto, on Sunday November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks with Hong Kong Veteran Arthur Kenneth Pifher, 91, of Grimsby, Ont., as they take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony at Sai Wan War Cemetery in Hong Kong on Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

  • A wreath sits infront of a military gravestone in the National Military cemetary in Ottawa, Friday November 9, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

  • Service medals are seen on Australian retired General Peter Congrove, of NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council Chair, during the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the cenotaph in Sydney on November 11, 2012. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18) and in memory of those who died or suffered in wars and armed conflicts. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A woman places a poppy flower on the cenotaph during Remembrance Day in Sydney on November 11, 2012. Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18) and in memory of those who died or suffered in wars and armed conflicts. AFP PHOTO/ROSLAN RAHMAN (Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wooden crosses bearing pictures of fallen servicemen and women and messages from their loved ones are planted in a memorial field at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, north-east England, on October 29, 2012 ahead of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on November 11. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wooden crosses bearing pictures of fallen servicemen and women and messages from their loved ones are planted in a memorial field at Saltwell Park in Gateshead, north-east England, on October 29, 2012 ahead of Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) on November 11. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Israeli soldier stands in front of a wall of names memorial to fallen soldiers at the Armored Corps memorial, following a ceremony to mark Remembrance Day, or Memorial Day at Latrun Junction, near Jerusalem on April 25, 2012. Remembrance Day is followed immediately by the 61st anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. AFP PHOTO/JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

  • King Albert II of Belgium salutes during the commemoration of World War I (1914-1918), commonly known as Remembrance Day, at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Brussels, on November 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO / BELGA / BENOIT DOPPAGNE (Photo credit should read BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 11: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall meets with New Zealand war veteran Staff Sgt Kirsty Meynell after the Armistice Day Commemoration at the Auckland War Memorial on November 11, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal couple are in New Zealand on the last leg of a Diamond Jubilee that takes in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Ross Setford-Pool/Getty Images)

  • A US citizen carries wreath as he walks past walls where 36,286 names of missing are inscribed at the US cemetery and memorial during the Veterans Day memorial in Manila on November 11, 2012. The US cemetery contains the remains of 16,631 Americans who died in the Pacific, China,India, and Burma theaters of war. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 11: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greets war veterans and members of the public following Armistice Day commemorations at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on November 11, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Royal couple have arrived in New Zealand on the last leg of a Diamond Jubilee that takes in Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

  • A US soldier carrying the US national flag stands at attention during the Veteran's Day commemoration at the US cemetery in Manila on November 11, 2012. The US cemetery contains the remains of 16,631 US citizens who died in the Pacific, China, India, and Burma theaters of war. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Chelsea Pensioners march past the Cenotaph during Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall, Central London, on November 11, 2012. Services are held annually across Commonwealth countries during Remembrance Day to commemorate servicemen and women who have fallen in the line of duty since World War I. AFP PHOTO/CARL COURT (Photo credit should read CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

  • FORT WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 11: Servicemen and women join veterans as they attend a remembrance Sunday ceremony at Commando Memorial on November 11, 2012 in Spean Bridge, Scotland. Remembrance Sunday tributes were carried out across the nation to pay respects to all who those who lost their lives in current and past conflicts, including the First and Second World War . (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 11: King Albert II of Belgium meets with war veterans during a tribute to the unknown soldier on November 11, 2012 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)


"They fought our fight to ensure freedom and dignity for everyone. They therefore deserve to be celebrated, applauded and eternally appreciated as authentic heroes."

Gov. Gen. David Johnston, who was wearing the blue uniform of the Royal Canadian Airforce, led the national service which also included a military parade, a gun salute and the laying of wreaths.

Among those in attendance was Roxanne Priede, this year's National Silver Cross Mother, picked by the Royal Canadian Legion to attend the ceremony on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost children in the service to their country.

Priede shed tears as she lay a wreath at the base of the war memorial. Her son, Master Corporal Darrell Jason Priede, died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2007.

"May we never forget those who have gone before us, paving the way to a world of greater freedom, more lasting justice and a more profound peace," said Brig. Gen Karl McLean, Chaplain General of the Canadian Forces, who led the ceremony in prayer.

In Halifax, hundreds of people packed the city's Grand Parade square under cool and cloudless skies for a Remembrance Day ceremony.

The sound of canons blasting from the city's Citadel Hill emanated throughout the square as wreaths were laid on a war memorial.

Cpl. Jeff Cameron, who serves at the Canadian Forces Base Halifax, said he hoped young generations continue to honour and support Canada's war veterans.

"I think it's important because it's paying respects for people who are serving and who have served and to give them support for what their doing," said Cameron just after being thanked for his service by a person walking by in the crowd.

Brydon Blacklaws, of Halifax, said he considers Remembrance Day "a great symbol of national pride."

"I want to support our family members that have served in the military, as well as my friends and community members that are in the military now and show my respects."

Wreaths were also laid at Ontario's provincial legislature in Toronto, where residents gathered to watch the laying of wreaths and witness a 21-gun salute.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is wrapping an Asian trade mission, marked Remembrance Day in Hong Kong earlier today at a cemetery where 283 Canadian soldiers are buried.

Harper and his wife placed wreaths at the base of the Sai Wan memorial which commemorates those who were killed in the battle of Hong Kong — one of the most catastrophic episodes in Canadian military history.

In Afghanistan, members of the Canadian Forces who are in the country on a training mission observed Remembrance Day with their coalition partners. Troops laid wreaths decorated with poppies at a base in Kabul.

In a statement released Sunday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Associate Defence Minister Bernard Valcourt said the nature of wars has changed but importance of honouring those who fought for their country remains ever strong.

"In the 21st Century, war has taken on a different character, but it is no less war, and no less damaging to those who fight it, and those at home who are affected by it," the statement said.

"Canada remembers, because there are still conflicts. Heroic men and women go to war for the benefit of Canada and the rest of the world, and some are lost. Would that this did not happen, but until the last war is fought, lest we forget."

An Ipsos Reid poll last week found that 30 per cent of respondents to an online survey were planning to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies today — up eight percentage points from two years ago.

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