Friday, November 11, 2011

Today We Remember...

Today we remember all those who fought for our freedom.  Growing up I remember year after year attending Remembrance Day (Canada's Veteran's Day) assemblies.  They would hand out poppies for each student to wear and you would drop a some change into the envelope out of respect.  I remember each year as hard as I would try I would still loose my poppy.  The school playground would be scattered with random poppies who had lost their owners.   Year after year the assembly was virtually the same.  We sang O'Canada and read "In Flanders Fields".  At precisely 11:11 The Last Post was played followed by a moment of silence.  On the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, at the eleventh hour we show our respect.  The assembly would end and we would go on with our day like any other day.  I think the magnitude of what was being celebrated was lost on young students but the tradition of these actions seemed comforting.

After leaving high school and moving on to University I remember wondering how they gathered everyone in University for this traditional assembly.  There are no mandatory assemblies in University.   I quickly realized that as you become an adult no one forces you to respect others, it was something you choose to do for yourself.  The University would offer a short service in one of the main cores of the school and have cadets selling poppies throughout the campus.  One year I remember being particularly busy and working away on a paper in one of the computer labs on campus.  I was typing away when all the sudden I heard the last post and students in the lab began to stand one by one.  I looked around and joined them.  This was powerful to me.  Although I had lost track of the day, and lost track of the time we still stood and had a moment of silence.  Our lab was right outside where the schools service was taking place and so I shared that moment with my fellow students.  While I would hardly brag that this was more than enough respect to be shown I was grateful for the University's initiative to hold a service and grateful I didn't miss that moment of silence.

Today again we come to Remembrance Day.  While getting ready this morning I saw footage of the services taking place at our Nations capital.  I wondered to myself where I would be during the traditional moment of silence.  It seemed rather disrespectful to just go on with my life today without taking a moment to pause.  I received a poppy a few weeks ago and ensured I had it on this morning. Morning routine rushed on and I went to spend the morning with my Mom.   We decided to check out a new home decor store that has recently opened near our house.  As we were shopping an announcement came over the loud speaker.  My Mom and I continued to shop until I started to listen to what they were saying.  Slowly shoppers slowed down and stopped as they too began to listen.

Today we stood with perfect strangers and showed respect.  We showed respect to our country, our freedom and most importantly those who sacrificed their lives or portions of their lives for us.  We listened to "In Flanders Field" followed by a moment of silence.  We paused for a moment of thanksgiving and celebration for our country.  And while the moment finished as quickly as it started it was amazing.  I was proud to be a Canadian and proud to stand with strangers and celebrate strangers who fought for us.  The Girl was a little unsure of what was going on and kept pointing to the sky where the sound was coming from.  But sitting in a cart with her Mom and Nana we celebrated Remembrance Day together.

Where were you this year?

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow 
Between the crosses, row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky 
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
 Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, 
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
 In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die 
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow 
In Flanders fields.

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