I recently wrote elsewhere that there is no day on the calendar that I honour with as much reverence as Remembrance Day. As the grand-daughter and niece of men who served our great nation with distinction, I was raised to have a good understanding of WHY November 11th is so significant. In my house it was never just another day.
As a child (in the 70's) my mother would take me to the cenotaph at Old City Hall in Toronto. I would watch the Remembrance Day ceremonies unfold among the veterans who experienced war first hand. From my recollection, it was always cold, raining or windy. But the inclement weather never showed on the faces of our veterans. They had a job to do...honour the memory of their fallen comrades.
Fast forward to my teenage years. I distinctly remember the focus of Remembrance Day slowly switch from remembering those lost in war to the concept of "peace'. So much so, that the name of our assembly was officially changed to "Peace Day" ceremonies. This never sat well with me. We were not remembering peace. We were remembering the ultimate sacrifice of war...the loss of human life.
In my 20's I would tape the Remembrance Day ceremonies from Ottawa. Just like the images from my childhood, there were our veterans, standing at attention, proudly displaying their various medals, seemingly unaffected by the weather. I would watch the Silver Cross mother lay a wreath in memory of her child, taken too soon. Everyone seemed to be getting older and older. The numbers of veterans in attendance slowly diminishing. The crowds gathering appeared to be getting smaller too. I started to feel that sadly, the significance of Remembrance Day was being lost. Up to that point in my lifetime, war was not really a consideration. Canadian Forces were leaving our soil for peace-keeping missions, not combat.