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I Wish Remembrance Day Wasn’t a Holiday!

Posted on Nov 7, 2014

I mostly blog about radio contests, but sometimes I throw in a little personal babble when I’m feeling creative. Today’s post is about Remembrance Day, and why it should NOT be a holiday.

This thought may seem odd to you at first, but give me a chance to explain…

I grew up in a small(ish) town in Manitoba back in the 70’s. After the first bell rang, we had to stand up and sing Oh Canada, then remain standing and recite the Lord’s Prayer. It was a great way to start the day, even for an atheist immigrant! I loved the ritual, I admired the sentiment, and it made me very patriotic.

Another ritual was the yearly Remembrance Day assembly. At 10am they would shuffle the 200 or so kids into the gym and the stage would be decorated. There would be speeches, special guests, sometimes a video about war. And at exactly 11am, there would be 2 minutes of silence. We would bow our heads, and think about why we were there.

Even as young as 7, I remember closing my eyes very tightly and thinking about my grandfathers. Both of them were lost in the war – not for THIS country, but still at war. My Mother and Father grew up without their fathers, and paid a price that I would never have to pay.

This assembly happened every year from kindergarden to grade 6, and then we moved to another school for Junior High. There, we were no longer taken to the gym, but the ceremony was performed over the PA – In Flander’s Field was read, speeches were made, and 2 minutes of silence followed. We all sat at our desks and tried desperately not to make any bodily noises, it was so quiet in the room that everyone would hear if your tummy growled, a burp arose, or a fart escaped. Mortifyingly embarrassing for a pre-teen!

These ceremonies made me stop and pay my respects, and each year since school I have made a concerted effort to recognize Remembrance Day in some way. I would find a ceremony in my area, where ever I happened to be, and attend. If I was single, I went alone. If I was in a relationship, I dragged him along. There were a few times when I didn’t go, but I promised myself I would watch it on tv and stop whatever I was doing at 11am. Alas, there was a time or two when the hour passed and I had forgotten. Shame filled me for the whole day!

How many people enjoying this 4 day weekend are going to pause what they’re doing at 11am on Tuesday? Will you? Be honest. If there was a local business that put a sign on the door saying “This business observes Remembrance Day. We will be closed for business between 11am and 11:02am. If you are inside, please pay your respects by standing still and being quiet.” I would tell EVERYBODY to shop there!!!

Now that Remembrance Day is a stat holiday, I worry about these younger generations. Sure, they have things going on at the school for the kids – my daughter’s Nature Club is planting bulbs for the vets today! But it’s the 11am ritual that I feel is the most important. A few times I went to the ceremony in New West and I got goosebumps when the planes did the fly-by. You can’t replace that.

I drag my family out every year to the ceremonies at UBC (nice and dry when it’s rainy) Every year I get choked up when the soldiers march in, when the wreaths are laid, when we stand silently for 2 minutes, and when that bugle plays. No one else I know takes their children. Anywhere. I doubt they even pause at 11am to remember why they have the day off. THAT gives me goosebumps… and not the good kind.