By: Iain Burhoe
Here we are, at the start of November, with everything around us changing. Soon the ground will become snow covered and we’ll be able to fully invest our time to the celebration of Christmas (or whatever you do celebrate). The giants in the retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, and Home Depot have decided to get a major head start to the festivities by starting to carry their Christmas products early. As in October early, like two weeks before Halloween. This raises a bigger concern in that these companies are ignoring the most important holiday of the year. Remembrance Day falls on November 11 each year and it is to commemorate the lives of those sacrificed so that we may live in the freedom that we currently have to this day. To place the importance of products over people who were thinking of us is totally ignorant.
November 11th is significant because it signaled the end of the First World War, the War to End All Wars. They realized that the men and women in the war died by the thousands and that they should be commemorated for their actions. The day evolved from thanking the veterans of World War One and broadened to acknowledge veterans of all the wars. Past, present, future, it did not matter. They needed to be recognized for their trials and tribulations. Remembrance Day started off slowly and most people did not even attend the original ceremonies, but over time realized the significance of the day. This is why we have different Remembrance Day celebrations, from the ones in our high schools to the national celebration in Ottawa. This is why we wear our poppies. To show that we will never forget.
There are hundreds of thousands of veterans around the world and it doesn’t matter what conflict they served in. They are considered veterans because they served to protect the ones at home. They gave up their lives so that we may live in peace, that we may have a future. We don’t know what they saw because we only saw it through the photographer’s lens. Our generation did not have to deal with the smell of rotting corpses, the horrors of gunfire and artillery fire, and the fear of never being able to come back home. The biggest fear they have is that they will be forgotten in time. Although this will never happen, the fear arose from the retail companies completely forgetting the day of remembrance. It is as if they are washing over the event, saying that their products are more important to the lives lost to war.
Christmas is without a doubt, the most popular holiday. I wouldn’t be writing this paper if it wasn’t. That being said, it should not be the case that the holiday should take importance over reflecting. If it were not for these men and women who gave up their lives, we would not have the freedom to celebrate Christmas. Some people are so blind to the privileges they are so graciously given. True, you are given the freedom to celebrate any holiday that you chose to, but will your early celebration be truly ruined by waiting? Would it crush you to wait eleven days before purchasing your gifts? Knowing that there were thousands of people who weren’t thinking of themselves, but the futures of the countries they fought for, is the greatest gift of all.
A lot of people will go to their local cenotaph and not have a proper mindset. Their mind will wander, thinking of how cold it is, or how they would rather be somewhere else. They are present in body but are not there in spirit. Remembrance Day is just one day out of your 365 days per year; take this time to reflect. Think of all the lives lost in the brutal conflicts. Think of all the soldiers who did not make it home. Think about all the sacrifices that had to be made so you can stand where you are. Think of all the men and women overseas right now who are someone’s son, daughter, wife, husband. We gather in locations all across the world to mourn those of the past, pay tribute to the ones in the present, and be thankful for the future they all have given us. Remembrance Day is a somber day that should not have to compete with the over-commercialization of the festive holiday. Find a member of the military, serving or retired, shake their hand, and tell them how thankful you are for them.
photo by: Salvation Army