There’s a move on now to turn Remembrance Day in Ontario into a holiday. I don’t think it’s a good idea, for the same reason I think people in Ottawa are misguided to think it’s cool to sell white poppies beside the red ones: because we, as a Nation, are so completely ill-informed as to what the day means in the first place.
What chance is there someone with a typical high school education in Canadian history is going to use a stat-holiday to reflect on our role in Korea? About as much chance as there is now of that same person showing up at their town’s cenotaph on Remembrance Day, so why give them an entire day off to celebrate their ignorance?
People have become (have always been) so ignorant of what Remembrance Day is that the day is becoming a political event. Pretty soon we’ll have protesters dressed in black, waving the Anarchy flag in front of war memorials.
There are people in Ottawa, for example, who call themselves a “White Poppy Coalition” (I looked for a website, but couldn’t find one). They’re selling white poppies this year because they’re convinced the red ones are a celebration of war. One of them told the Ottawa Sun recently the white poppies celebrate a “non-violent means of conflict resolution”. They deliberately chose a poppy, making their statement overtly political and insulting to the people — civilian and soldiers alike — who have served , lived through or died in wars around the world.
Rex Murphy pointed out in a recent column that “poppies show our regret at war’s horrors, not our love for it”. In other words, the red poppy already has your non-violent concerns covered, but thanks for reminding us all of the need for a better education system.
Here’s what I remember… after spending the first years of WW2 as a conscientious objector, my grandfather was training to be a tail-gunner when the war ended; his youngest brother flew Lancaster bombers over Germany; their oldest brother was a member of the 1st Special Service Force, aka: “The Devil’s Brigade”. He fought all the way up the Italian boot, and he did it mostly at night and with a knife.
My father’s father served as a radioman aboard the HMS Hood, but transferred off to a smaller ship just weeks before the Hood was sunk by the Bismarck. His future wife, and my grandmother, was a mathematician who helped develop radar. She later worked on breaking Nazi codes.
The first of my relatives who made it to Canada was a French military doctor who came to Quebec in 1740. He started one of the first hospitals in Montreal, and dedicated his life to ministering to the poor and destitute. He also served as a military physician during the War of 1812. Thanks to his work, but mostly because he didn’t get paid for doing it, he died penniless and so far in debt his widow and most of his children had to adopt a new name.
During the early 1970’s my parents and their friends helped protect and shelter young American draft dodgers who were making their way north to avoid being conscripted into the Vietnam War.
That’s what I remember. This is what my family has done to stop tyranny, and to stop wars from happening again, and also to protect people from being forced to serve in war, and the red poppy covers every one of them.