11/11/11 Canada Remembrance Day

Earlier this week, I was out with my nephew who is visiting from Israel. He saw a group of Veterans selling poppies and pinning them to people’s lapels. He asked me the meaning of the poppies. I was saddened that he had to ask me since he had grown up in Montreal as well.

The poppy is a reminder, a symbol that represents the brave commitment of many soldiers who suffered and died for their country. Israel also practices this powerful convention of remembering the fallen. I have been in Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Day devoted to remembering our fallen soldiers. At 11 am, a loud siren is heard and everyone in the whole country, on foot or in a vehicle, stops in their tracks and pays tribute.

This article by Kevin Myers also spoke to me, and is worth adding here. It was originally published in April 2007 but is still as relevant as ever.

Salute to a brave and modest nation – Kevin Myers, ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ LONDON

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does.. It seems that Canada ‘s historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored….

Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac , Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well. Lest we forget.