Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day: a day of rest?

Remembrance Day should not be a public holiday.

In most of Canada, today is a public holiday and had it not fallen on a Sunday this year, workers would have had the day off work and students would be playing their video games – or whatever it is kids are into these days. Only in Ontario and Quebec do kids go to school on Remembrance Day. And I’d be willing to bet, Ontario has the largest percentage of school-aged children who observe the traditional moment of silence at 11am on November 11.

The reasons for the holiday seem good-intentioned; the Nova Scotia Remembrance Day Act, declares:

“Our heritage of freedom and human dignity has, under Providence, been preserved through the unselfish devotion of those who sacrificed health, limb and life itself in World War One, World War Two and the Korean Conflict;

The eleventh day of November has traditionally been set aside throughout Nova Scotia as a day to be kept and observed in each and every year under the name "Remembrance Day";

It is fitting that on Remembrance Day the people of Nova Scotia should pay grateful tribute to the memory of those who have died, cherish those who have suffered grievous injury, and dedicate themselves anew to the maintenance and furtherance of the great ideals hallowed by those sacrifices.”[1]

That’s a nice theory and all…but I find it hard to believe that your average students (let alone his or her parents) are passionate enough about Remembrance Day to go to a ceremony, or even to tune the television to CBC where they can watch the official Canadian observance. So, if Remembrance Day is worth observing, why not send the children to school where they spend the morning listening to the types of sacrifices soldiers and their families made through stories, skits and poetry, before ultimately listening to the haunting notes of the Last Post, before observing a moment of silence with their teachers and peers?

If, on the other hand, we decide Remembrance Day is not worth observing, why is it worth taking a day off work and school? It seems rather ironic that we would celebrate the tireless efforts and extraordinary sacrifices of young Canadians, by sleeping in.


[1] "Remembrance Day Act" Government of Nova Scotia.

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