Canadians from coast to coast to coast will take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies this weekend. The day marks Armistice Day — the treaty that brought an end to World War One — signed on at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. Most Canadians know why Remembrance Day is recognized, but what happens when Remembrance Day is forgotten?
In recent years, Christmas has crept close behind Halloween — even popping up in stores and discussions around Thanksgiving. There’s a growing movement online that requests people to not decorate their homes for Christmas until after Remembrance Day, and that movement has merit. What does it say to our veterans who spent holidays overseas, or the families of veterans who never made it home, that the holidays are more important than their sacrifice?
Wars have evolved since Armistice Day in 1918. The last time Canada officially declared war was in 1939 to fight in the Second World War. However, Canadians have seen combat in Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Afghanistan — not to mention the countless global peacekeeping operations Canadians have taken part in.
With the evolution of war, public opinion on military efforts, and on the veterans who serve in those operations, have changed. Veterans are no longer celebrated as heroes. As veterans were returning home from service in Afghanistan, battling the symptoms of PTSD and other wounds of war, members of the public took it upon themselves to shame veterans for their role in that conflict. It is okay to critique the military and advocate for peace, but it is never okay to disrespect veterans.
Respect for veterans should be universal. Not everyone is going to go to a Remembrance Day service. Not everyone supports the military as an institution — and certainly not everyone supports Canadian military operations. But at this time of year, it is paramount to show respect and support to veterans. Showing that respect is as simple as making a donation and wearing a poppy.
What is most important is that Canadians never forget the sacrifices of brave men and women, those who served in past wars, and those who still serve. Thanks to their efforts, Canada enjoys an unprecedented period of peace and security. For that reason — if only for that reason — Remembrance Day, and the real sacrifices behind it, must never be forgotten.
– Cole Schisler