Remembrance Day is a proud tradition, even for those who have not yet personally experienced the horrors of war.
As the world stands, tens of thousands of people die each year to wars and as such it is not only the great World War soldiers, or the veterans of Vietnam that are remembered on Nov. 11th.
On this day, we remember the sons and daughters lost in the wars of history, but also those being lost in current conflicts. We reflect on those who are currently engaged in conflicts, from Syria to Kenya, Egypt to Mexico, Afghanistan to South Sudan and beyond.
It is a day to consider what freedom means for North Americans – who fought for it, who paid for it with their lives and how we can honour their actions. As a nation, we stand in silence each year – a striking display of respect that is carried out in workplaces, schools, hospitals, government and more.
These moments of silence are designated for those silenced by the sounds of war. They are for parents who did not return to children, or children who did not return to parents. Those two minutes are a symbol of solidarity that say, “We acknowledge those who have fought for our freedom and for those who continue to fight.”
However, these moments of silence should also raise questions such as, “What do these wars bring? What happens to refugees of war seeking asylum?” or, “What could I do to help?”
To help those who are affected by war, thoughts and prayers are a kind gesture but are not definitive action. Volunteering with veterans, Legions, counselling programs, opening doors to refugees and more – these are the actions that the everyday citizen can take to truly move towards remembrance.
Through the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, poppies are worn as a symbol that stand vividly to show a connection. That connection is compassion and understanding to the consequences and casualties of war.
The poppy is worn on the left side, near the middle of the chest, over the heart. This special placement reminds us that those who have served, are currently serving or lost their lives serving will be a part of our hearts forever.
Poppies have earned the direct relation to ‘Never Forget’ – a term heard often during the time of Remembrance, but not forgotten year-round.
To the lives lost in conflict, changed by war and uplifted through liberation – we remember.
To the families, the refugees and the escapees of war – we remember.
To the veterans who fought and to those engaged in conflict now – we remember.
To the communities devastated by bombs and to the nations divided – we remember.
To those struggling to support their loved ones in conflict and struggling to understand the opposing sides during conflict, we will never forget your contributions.
Remembrance is more than a designated day – it is a state of mind, one that should be followed by action. Those actions, again, include volunteering, a small donation or even just listening to someone’s story of the conflict they have seen or have been impacted by.
Remembrance Day is a day to be celebrated with reverence and respect, for all those before and after us who have fought for liberation, education, love and opportunity.
It is a day to stand together as a nation, but more importantly as humans who have all suffered loss and ought to be thankful for the lives we are given today.