~ Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, Canadian Forces
With November around the corner, red poppies will begin to appear on the coats of most Canadians – a quintessential symbol of remembrance and a signal that Remembrance Day is approaching. In Canada, it’s customary to wear a poppy during the two weeks prior to November 11th. Do you wear a poppy? In a recent Life Strategies survey about Remembrance Day, 83% of respondents indicated that they buy a poppy. To learn more about the significance and history of the poppy visit the Royal Canadian Legion’s website for information on the poppy campaign and a link to the iconic In Flanders Fields poem, often recited at Remembrance Day ceremonies across Canada.
The majority of survey respondents indicated that they attend (54%) and/or watch on TV (49%) a Remembrance Day ceremony. Although not many reported visiting the legion (7%), 78% take the time to at least pause and reflect. That’s perhaps the most important aspect of the day – to pause and reflect. With the hectic pace of life nowadays, it’s important to take the time, slow down, remember, and be thankful.
Survey respondents indicated the top three reasons Remembrance Day was important were that they needed to remember those who suffered for our freedoms (83%), they needed to remember a family member or friend who served (65%), and they needed to celebrate our freedoms (58%). Sometimes it’s all too easy to think of Remembrance Day as just another day off, but it’s important to remember the purpose of this day.
So how can we keep the memory alive? Our survey respondents shared some tips including:
- Never letting the memory fade by educating youth on the true purpose and value of Remembrance Day. Talking to your kids and connecting with the older generation can provide youth with personal connections to wars of the past rather than just dates and numbers.
- Spreading information on Remembrance Day through special documentaries and interviews. Sharing stories is a great way to get the word out but also makes that all important personal connection.
- Keeping Remembrance Day as a national holiday would ensure everyone is given the opportunity and time to remember. One individual suggested that perhaps we should also insist that businesses close their doors at least until after 11:00am so everyone can observe a minute of silence.
- Advocating for soldiers (and veterans) providing the support they need upon return. Saying “thanks” to someone who served can go a long way. It doesn’t even need to be someone you know.
- Attending or getting involved in the ceremonies (e.g., the band). Although it’s a solemn event, one individual suggested making the ceremony interesting by involving well-known figures and some “entertainment” value in order to engage those who otherwise wouldn’t watch or attend. A word of caution on this – finding a respectful balance between “show” and “ceremony” might be difficult.
- Fighting for peace and remembering the victims of war. Remembrance Day isn’t only about looking back but also looking forward – what have we learned from the past? What can we do to help promote peace?
No matter why or how you remember, the important thing is that you do. Despite minor disruptions, we are very fortunate to live in the peaceful society that we do.
Originally posted October 21, 2011 by Cassie Saunders