I have never been able to explain my fascination with the events of World War I and II, or any other historical war, nor my affinity for Rememberance Day until now that I live in the United States. It seems to me that in Canada, Rememberance Day is part of who we are. I never fail to see our politicians, our media, our schools and our citizens doing something to acknowledge Rememberance day, to remember and honour the sacrifices so many soldiers have made in all of Canada’s history.
I have always seen Canadians of all ages wearing a poppy, starting in mid to late October in Canada. Without talking to people, you just know they know what wearing the poppy signifies. I’ve been wearing one here in Chicago since late October. On two occaisions I am aware of, it helped other Canadians identify with me. It marked me as Canadian, which filled me with a pride – an excitement, even – to be Canadian I can’t say I have felt this deeply before.
I am so proud of the country of my birth. I am so proud to be from a place that honours our veterans the way it does. God, I hope that doesn’t change once all our First and Second World War veterans have passed away.
The American military may be mighty and have an almost unlimited budget to maintain its might, but I don’t see the men and women who serve and who have served in past and present conflicts honoured and remembered in the same way as I see our Canadian soliders remembered. True, there are many people with American flag or “support our troops” stickers on their cars, but it never strikes me as having the same “I remember” meaning as a sea of people with poppies pinned to their chests.
And how the media in each country covers Rememberance/Veterans Day. On the CBC web site, there is a whole section on Rememberance Day. The top stories on the CBC.ca front page are about the Rememberance Day services held today. Here is yet another.
On the Chicago Tribune site, the only reference I could find to Veterans Day on the front page was a story about what is opened and what is closed today (registration required, sorry about that). I could find nothing referring to Veterans Day on the New Times home page. The Christain Science Monitor, which I got turned on to in journalism school, has a story front and center on their home page, but I know this publication is the exception, not the rule in the American media. If anything, the CS Monitor often reminds me of how the Canadian media does journalism.
But I digress from remembering. I recall my cousin’s boyfriend Henry wearing a poppy year-round when he lived in Toronto. He said that we shouldn’t just remember when its Rememberance Day; we should remember year round. I couldn’t agree more. Now I just need to convince the Royal Canadian Legion to create poppy pins that I can keep permanently pinned to my coats. My only criticism of the poppy tradition is that the poppy falls off too easily because it is only attached with a straight pin. But then maybe there is some symbolism in that. Maybe leaders are too quick to let the lifeblood of our country fall in war, even if it might be a just cause. Maybe we create weapons that make our soliders fall too easily to their deaths.
Maybe I should just shut up and remember in a few moments of silence.
In honour of all the soliders, in all countries, who have fought so the generations after them could enjoy the freedoms and life we have, THANK YOU.
UPDATE: Joshua pointed out that the Chicago Tribune had several stories regarding veterans in the Metro section of the Friday newspaper. In addition, the WGN-TV news at 9 pm (CST) led with stories about Veterans Day including the unveiling of a new Vietnam War Veterans memorial at Wacker and Wabash, Mayor Richard Daley laying a wreath at said memorial and George W. Bush’s Veterans Day activities. The immoral president decided it was important to lambast the people who continue to criticize his decision to be in Iraq. I could say more, but let’s save that for another post.