Remembering 365 Days A Year
|Image: Poppies - via Aubry Benoit of Ottawa - Wikipedia|
I admit I am sentimental and my kids would say easily brought to tears. I am proud to be Canadian, and every year on Remembrance Day I attend the school assembly or watch the ceremonies on TV, and predictably when I see the older veterans in their uniforms, blankets wrapped around them while they stoically stand or sit in chairs or wheelchairs often in the rain or the snow, I cry. They make me proud, when they humbly tell their stories of bravery and service. It always makes me sad, that no matter how good life after war has been, the clocks can never be turned back. They cannot unremember, or unsee what they have seen and experienced. No one comes out of such experiences untouched or unchanged.
Today like other Remembrance Days I watched my teens leave for school with poppies on their jackets. There will be an assembly at their school. I think to myself ... I hope they conduct themselves accordingly, and take the time to reflect on how very lucky they are. I hope they appreciated what others before them sacrificed on their behalf.
Then I turned on the television to watch the coverage of the Remembrance Day Ceremony to take place at the War Memorial in our nation's capital. Watching as thousands of people gather for the ceremony. In particular I watch the senior veterans that come despite the obvious effort to do so. I wonder as I do every year why the uniform hats do not cover their ears, and they must be cold, and every year marvel at them standing tall and proud. If they are cold they show no sign of it.
My Husband is home today, which is unusual and I ask him if he is going to watch the Remembrance Day ceremony. He tells me "no". I ask him "why not?". I am curious since he was an air cadet for five years. He participated in many Remembrance Day ceremonies. (paraphrasing here) His response is "He doesn't support one day of remembrance and 364 days of memory loss". He clearly does not want to talk about this, but does make one last comment. "If we truly want to honour our veterans for their service we should start by providing the services, support, counselling and resources they need. We would not find reasons and excuses not to and politicise the process".
I mull over what he has said for a moment. He is right, and often after seeing a news report, or documentary think we should be doing a better job at providing the support, resources and counselling they need; but I have never thought of it in relation to Remembrance Day.
The phase "Actions speak louder than words" comes to mind. I have said this to my kids so many times. I believe we teach by example, and the behaviour we model is the behaviour our children learn. They see that there is all this ceremony on November 11th, and learn our commitment is one day a year. As citizens of this great country we need more than words one day a year, instead we need action 365 days a year. We need to put in place mechanisms that provide those who serve resources, and support their families trying to cope with living without them while they are on a tour of duty. We need to support their families trying to cope with living with them as they reintegrate and deal with both physical and mental wounds and scares that come with that service.
I am by no means an expert in this area, and definitely do not have all if any of the answers, but surely we can do better. Small actions add up to something big. Each of us could learn more, write a letter, volunteer, reach out, take some sort of action that loudly demonstrates our thanks.
I leave you (and myself) with this question: What one thing can we each remember do to change words of thanks and gratitude into action?
Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about Remembrance Day.
Lest We Forget.