The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Remembrance Day: Then and Now

I'm giving you the heads up...this post has absolutely nothing to do with The Hour.

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.

Today...well, history has a way of repeating itself, now doesn't it? Once again our brave men and women are willing to sacrifice for a cause they so strongly believe in. Canadian veterans are no longer the older men and women I remember from my childhood. In many cases, the veterans of today, are younger than me.
As Canadians, we owe our veterans, no matter their age, living or dead, a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid. Please do not let this Remembrance Day pass as just another day on your calendar.
I first heard this song while listening to CFRB a couple of years ago. It is based on the 1999 real-life experience of singer/songwriter Terry Kelly. It is not really my kind of music...but the message is clear...lest we forget.


Barbara said...

I will be at Queens Park on Sunday morning. I won't forget Steph.
Thank you.

mich said...

Great post Steph. It's fascinating to see the cycles that the significance of this day goes through.

668 aka neighbour of the beast said...

very nice post.

i will always remembering observing the moment of silence in school.

Janna said...

I find Remeberance Day to be such a hard day. I know that I live in free country because of the soliders who fought in the WW's but I wonder what the future brings. It is hard to think that I know people in the war's right now and that they might not come home.

But it is also so farfetched for my generation. We have never had war on OUR turf. And I pray we never do. There is so much wisdom we have not been imparted from our veterans... I can only hope we glean it before it is too late.

Good Blog Steph...

Tracy said...

Thanks for sharing your personal memories of Remembrance Day Steph. The sacrifices made by Veterans and their family, friends and communities both from years gone by and for current day soldiers can't be overstated.

Support and reverence for Veterans doesn't mean a support for war.

I'll be reflecting long after 11am.

Jenuine said...

Thanks Steph for this.

Two minutes really is "A pittance of time".
You're right.....fewer people, it seems, take the time to reflect or attend on Remembrance Day.
Both of my Grandfathers, RIP, served for our country, and this day brings back memories of them & others who gave of themselves.
Living in our day & age, with all the benefits and opportunities we have, it can be difficult to relate or put ourselves in the footprints of the past. I just hope that we continue to teach our younger generations to respect and honour their sacrifices.