Why remember Remembrance Day? Remembrance Day is held dear in the hearts of many Canadians; however, whether it stings a nerve in students and Canada’s youth is in question. We are of a different generation – a generation that, fortunately, must not live with the chains and shackles of a world war. We are generation Y, or rather, a constant go-go-go generation - we are people that rarely stop to think, reflect or ponder the past. Most importantly, we are the first generation in Canada where the majority of us do not have grandparents or family members that fought in a World War. We have, for all intensive purposes, become disconnected from the one day of the year where we are supposed to reflect upon the past and remember those fallen.
"When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?" -George Canning
This disconnection not only affects our personal actions on November 11th, but it affects the future of Remembrance Day and how future generations will honour this day. However, how do we fix this disconnect? To connect to a cause that one is not directly affected by is not a simple task to tackle. What generation Y must realize is that war affects each and every Canadian quite intimately. No matter what war is fought and where it unrolls in the world, it affects family members, loved ones and fellow Canadians. It also affects the government and what priorities our leaders have. While young Canadians may no longer feel connected to World War I and World War II, we do feel connected to the recent and ongoing battles in the Middle East. Remembrance Day may be a day to honour those fallen in the two World Wars, but it is also a day to honour those that serve our country in any way and in any conflict, no matter where in the world they fight and no matter when they fought.
Remembrance Day is also a day to honour those that currently serve in the military, navy, air force, reserve, cadets and other fields of the Canadian Forces. Perhaps you have a friend that serves in the navy or air force. On November 11th, think of them and the work they are doing to protect and preserve Canada and our friends around the world. Lastly, we must honour our veterans – those that fought in any war, at any time, that are now giving back to Canada and their communities. Some may suffer from mental illness after experiencing war, some may be leaders of our nation and some may have passed.
Since we are generation Y and we have access to a multitude of social media networks, get the word out about Remembrance Day! Remind people to wear a poppy or attend the national ceremonies. In order to upkeep an annual tradition, we must excite people about it and make it relate-able. Furthermore, since we have the opportunity to study in the nation’s capital, we are able to attend the national Remembrance Day Ceremonies. The ceremony starts at 11:11am in downtown Ottawa (across from Parliament Hill), although I would recommend getting there early since thousands of people arrive downtown to witness the traditional and historic ceremonies.
These ceremonies are truly spectacular to witness, since they pull together all of the Canadian Forces, the veterans of Canada, the Government, the Prime Minister, the Governor General and other prominent Canadian leaders. It is the one moment of the year where everyone in attendance stops, stands silent and remembers – if only for a moment – of times past and battles lost and of peoples lost but history gained. So this year, let us remember and lest us forget.