Be Ours to Hold it High
The roots of Remembrance Day go back to 1919, almost 100 years ago. Each November, countless Canadians don plastic poppies and remember. We stop for two minutes, and we remember. What do I remember? The only wars during my lifetime affected me only indirectly. They didn’t change the essence of my life. Still, I remember and I reflect.
I remember sombre school ceremonies. I remember being cold and wet outside the cenotaph in the town where I grew up. I remember clipping the annual photograph of my great-uncle out of my small town newspaper. But my remembrance must go beyond the ceremony and the details around it.
Each year, I hear the poem written by Canadian John McRae, I hear trumpets sound, I pin a poppy to my chest. I remember to appreciate the country in which I live; I remember to reflect on the freedoms I have. Unlike many people in the world we, as Canadians, are allowed to voice displeasure about our political leaders. With this power come several responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to think about what it is we are remembering on Remembrance Day, and to use our minds and energy to think about why we are remembering.
Here are 11 reasons why I remember. I remember because…
1) Those black and white pictures and those old video clips might not look as real as today’s videogames, but those images are of real people. Sons, daughters, friends – real people.
2) Life is sacred.
3) I worked in Toronto with a seventeen-year-old boy who received a letter from his home country threatening that he would die if he ever returned. Why? He was overheard talking in a coffee shop about the wrong political power.
4) Yes, sometimes I think my problems are complicated and impossible to overcome. But really, my life is easy.
5) War is avoidable.
6) People died.
7) Over 75 million people died because of World War I and II. I don’t know how to imagine what that number means. My imagination cannot picture that many people.
8) The alternative to remembering, is forgetting.
9) Memory impacts reality.
10) In a time when most holidays are fun and light and over-commercialized, there is something to be said for remembering that life is not all fun and easy. There is something to be said for sombreness.
11) There are 525600 minutes in a regular calendar year. Two minutes of silent reflection is not enough, but it is something.
Lest we forget.