Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembering Remembrance Day

I dropped my kids off at school this morning, for the first time on a November 11th. I can't get over the feeling that it is just wrong to be going about our daily business on a day like today. How is it that Queen Victoria's birthday is a statutory holiday here, but the day that we honour our fallen soldiers and encourage the ones currently serving does not merit that recognition?

I grew up in New Brunswick, and Remembrance Day was not a statutory holiday there until about five years ago, but it was a government holiday and many businesses observed the day by closing. I never attended school on Remembrance Day growing up or as a teacher, and neither have my children. There was always an assembly the day before to honour the day. I remember making wreaths with my class, memorizing "In Flanders Fields" and seeing the veterans parade into the gymnasium. I only remember one Remembrance Day that either Chris or I was expected to work. Since it became a statutory holiday, and since our children have been old enough to understand what we were doing, we made it a point to attend the service at the cenotaph in Marysville, along with most of our neighbours, to hear the trumpet play the Last Post, and observe our two minutes of silence, and see the wreaths laid in memory of loved ones who gave their lives for our freedom. I never wanted this day to be just another holiday. I always wanted it to mean something to my children, and it meant something to me that we observed the importance of this day as a family.

Six provinces and three territories in Canada have declared Remembrance Day a statutory holiday. In Nova Scotia it is not, although employers are required to give either November 11 or an alternate day off. In Manitoba it is considered an "Official Day of Observance", although not a statutory holiday. In Ontario and Quebec it is not a statutory holiday. I am very proud that nine out of thirteen governments in my country have decided that this day is worthy of being observed as a holiday. I am saddened that I live in one of the two that have not given this day the honour that it is due. I wonder why Family Day in February is a statutory holiday, and the civic holiday in August, Labour Day in September and Boxing Day in December? Why do they merit statutory holiday status, but not this day that is so significant in the history of our country?

My children will attend a Remembrance Day ceremony at their school this morning. Janelle's choir will be singing, and I am welcome to attend as well. Unfortunately, we have a window that won't close in our living room. It's getting a bit too cold to have an open window all the time, and today is the only day that the window company could make a service call. I have to be at home to wait for them between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. I guess I'll be tuning in to a service on TV. Chris has meetings at work all day today, so he isn't free to attend a memorial service either.

I understand that many of the people who do have today off will not take the opportunity to share in the Remembrance Day service in their communities. However, many of the people who would like to commemorate the day in this way don't have the option. I am sad to see the end of something that has become a family tradition for us.

I first saw the following video when it was played at my church during a Remembrance Day service a few years ago. I think it very aptly sums up the way I am feeling about taking the time, and allowing others the opportunity to take the time, to honour our veterans and our soldiers now serving to protect our freedom.


  1. I copied and pasted the info about our country and whether today is a holiday or not. I knew you wouldn't mind. And I love that song. We didn't play it this year though. I let my favs know about it too. I couldn't write much today as the whole family plus 4 others have been here. Been thinking of you today and how your family was not all together. Hope you had time to do the two minutes of silence at home together or something once you were all together again.

  2. Have a great weekend! How are you going to write everyday? Do you have a laptop or access to a computer? Wish I was coming with you.....