Wattpad

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day, a tradition originally inspired by World War I, “The War to End All Wars” that involves a ceremony and a two minute silence held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It is a short moment in time to honour our veterans and the thousands upon thousands of men and women who gave their lives for their country.

I’m embarrassed at the blatant lack of respect today’s society shows for Remembrance Day. Sure, banks and government offices are closed today, but most of the people who aren’t crowded onto the GO Train with me today aren’t going to be participating in any ceremonies nor likely observing two minutes of silence. They’re likely just sleeping in then doing early Christmas shopping or perhaps getting in a last round of golf if the weather permits. Perhaps they’ll think about Remembrance Day when glancing at the local newspaper or catching a news update (all the news anchors have been wearing their poppies since before Halloween after all - that’s a good sign, at least)

When I was young, I remember Remembrance Day being a full or half day off from school where everyone participated in a local parade that often included local veterans. The parade always ended at the downtown Cenotaph with a ceremony of remembrance and the laying of wreaths. One year, I had the distinct honour of laying down the wreath for our local cup scout troop. Later on, when it wasn’t a day off, our schools held ceremonies, veterans came in and spoke to us about the horrors of war and the honour of standing for your country -- it was a big deal.

When I lived in Ottawa less than ten years ago it was still a big deal -- businesses in the city of Ottawa would stay closed until noon on Remembrance Day. The streets near the War Memorial downtown were closed as thousands of people flocked to pay their respects and remember.

But here in Toronto, I’ve yet to see much respect for anything other than the almighty dollar. It’s a real shame. I remember in 1999 just a few minutes before eleven on November 11th, an internal email was sent out to everyone in the company requesting a few moments of silence. It has been years since I’ve seen anything of the sort -- we have critically important work to do, after all, and can’t waste two minutes out of our day. Despite the fact that there are still wars going on (I won’t get started on using words like “needless”) and that Canada continues to lose soldiers in peacekeeping missions around the world, it’s a pity we can’t take a few moments out of our day to remember them and think about it all. Here on the GO Train perhaps half of the people I see are wearing poppies.

Francine is planning on taking Alexander downtown to the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Hamilton. I’m proud of that. I hope we can instill in our son a sense of history, a sense of respect and a sense of personal responsibility that he can wear with pride. I want him to appreciate where we live, what we have and the mostly peaceful existence we take for granted.

As for myself, while I’m shamefully bowing down to the almighty dollar and going in to work today, I’ve set the alarm on my watch for 11 AM. I plan on stopping just for a few minutes to remember. It’s the very least I can do.

8 comments:

Gwen said...

Every year I sit at my desk and observe the 2 minutes of silence and each year I have to block out the sounds of the people around me who go on with their daily routines - too busy to honour the people who have sacrificed so much. 2 minutes of silence is such a small gesture and it is sad to see even that becoming a thing of the past.

Rainypete said...

We are stopping for 2 minutes here at work after which I will play the Last Post and Revellie. I hate the fact that I have to work and am unable to attend any of the services. I'd love to head to the CWH museuem and see what their service is like.

Pete Mitchell said...

My one grandfather flew for the R.A.F. and the other received an O.B.E. for his services to England during the war.I'll be going down to the ceremony in Burlington. It's still a big deal in England. The scars of war run deep there. In Folkestone where I was living, there's stands a single bell-tower that is all that remains from a church that was bombed during WWII. They STILL can't afford to rebuild the church so they've built a commemorative park instead and services are held there every November 11th. There are similar scenes all over England, the damage was THAT extensive. I'm inclined to think we take it for granted in Canada because, for the most part, we have been fortunate to not have the path of war lead to our doorstep in the past century. Fingers crossed.

Shoop said...

I was surprized that at 11am a single ping rang out over the PA system and the office went quiet, i mean pin drop quiet, for two minutes. Not a word, not a sneeze or cough. It was eerie to look around and see 40+ people, and not hear a sound, knowing they were all remembering our heros and appreciating our freedom. I sure felt proud. Two minutes later another ping over the PA and we all went back to the daily routine.

GS said...

Hey here is a site that actually gives away FREE tickets to Las Vegas shows. They have other useful information regarding Las Vegas getaways and las vegas shows Check it out las vegas shows

Mantaray Ocean said...

Very well said Mark, and how truly accurate it reflects the current state in Canada.
At work we did observe the two minutes of silence (Our dept anyways). When I heard others on the phone or doing their work during those two minutes, I can only hope that they realise how fortunate they are to work in a country that is free. In my home province, this day is celebrated and Stores are closed out of respect. People attend ceremonies to remember those who gave so much so that we may live our lives the way that we want (without state). Yet, I find the lack of respect in Ontario appaling. Retail Stores are open, the Stock Market goes on (albeit quieter) and most people no longer wear a Poppy.

However, it brightens my day when I see the odd person proudly wearing their Poppy. It is then that I realise that there will always be a group (albeit small) that shall never forget.

Oh, and to all of those who continue to lose their Poppies year after year (in some cases an hour after purchasing one - I will let you in on the secret - the trick is to put the pin through the Poppy Edge when you fasten it to your clothing. Not even the 90 km/h winds could tear my Poppy from my sweater.)

Michelle said...

I visit Canada every other year around the time of Remembrance Day for a singing convention I go to which rotates locations. (Two years ago I was in Halifax; two years prior I was in London, ON.) I was just visiting downtown Hamilton from New York State, and was fortunate enough to have time in my schedule to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony there. It was only a few blocks from my convention so I just walked. The ceremony was very moving, flyover and all. I commend the citizens of Hamilton for their observance of this important holiday and for the reverence they showed. I saw poppies all over Hamilton during my five day stay. We in the US "observe" Veterans Day this day also, but in my opinion it's more like watching a day pass by on the calendar for most. As an outsider looking in, I'd say that you, my friends to the North, can commend yourselves on your 11/11 activities.

Michelle said...

I visit Canada every other year around the time of Remembrance Day for a singing convention I go to which rotates locations. (Two years ago I was in Halifax; two years prior I was in London, ON.) I was just visiting downtown Hamilton from New York State, and was fortunate enough to have time in my schedule to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony there. It was only a few blocks from my convention so I just walked. The ceremony was very moving, flyover and all. I commend the citizens of Hamilton for their observance of this important holiday and for the reverence they showed. I saw poppies all over Hamilton during my five day stay. We in the US "observe" Veterans Day this day also, but in my opinion it's more like watching a day pass by on the calendar for most. As an outsider looking in, I'd say that you, my friends to the North, can commend yourselves on your 11/11 activities.