Remembrance Day binds Canadian public together

Remembrance Day has become one of the Canada’s cultural touchstones. One of very few.

On the morning of November 11th, veterans will have paraded along streets in thousands of towns and cities across the nation. The ceremonies will be strikingly similar – wreaths laid at cenotaphs, the haunting bugle strains of the Last Post will drift across crowds of onlookers.

At 11 a.m. each of those parks and public spaces will fall silent in honour of the men and women who died for our country. Millions of Canadians at work, at home, at school will also respect the moment of silence.

It should be a pleasant day, for November, in most of the country. But weather won’t be a big factor. Wars don’t stop for sun or rain or snow. Neither do peace, or remembrance.

When else does this country bind so tightly together? A gold-medal hockey game? Probably. Any other event? Not likely.

The impact of Remembrance Day is so broad that there is a natural desire for people with other causes to tap into it. The battle to improve the federal government’s flawed system of lump-sum compensation for wounded veterans, for example, has gotten publicity in recent weeks.

More controversial is the appearance of white “peace” poppies that some say conflict with the Royal Canadian Legion’s red poppy campaign.

Many would argue that wounded veterans should be the focus at this time, and that the peace movement should stay respectfully quiet. Others respond that veterans fought for freedom, including the freedom to say and do what some might consider wrong, bad-mannered or worse.

There is no unequivocal right or wrong in that discussion, not in terms of what it means to Remembrance Day. More than 1.7 million Canadians have served in wars overseas; more than 115,000 have died. They would have had as many different viewpoints as you would find in a sampling of 1.7 million current Canadians.

But they did have one thing in common. When duty called, they answered. They went to war on behalf of their country. They willingly risked their futures to secure those of their countrymen and generations that would come after.

That commitment and the terrible price so many of them paid is what we remember and honour on this Remember’s Day. They fought for peace and we are the benefactors.

The purest expression of our gratitude is two minutes of silent remembrance.

Guest Editorial from Toronto Sun

While remembering thousands of brave soldiers who gave their lives for Canada, this Remembrance Day we will also remember Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian soldier, who was killed while serving as a ceremonial guard duty at the Canadian National War Memorial, in Ottawa, on October 22, 2014. Corporal Nathan and his young family will be on the minds of Canadians as they pay their respects to those who sacrificed their lives for Canada.