Living in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario, we are fortunate to be able to attend the Remembrance Day Service at our national cenotaph. Today was a cool, showery, somewhat snowy day yet the crowds came to Parliament Hill. There could be more people there though. In our native province of Saskatchewan, Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday. Everything pretty much shuts down.
When we moved here we were surprised to learn Remembrance Day is not a statutory holiday in Ontario. What? I’ll be working that day? In the nation’s capital? You don’t go to work on Remembrance Day! You go to the cenotaph in your town or city and you stand in the sometimes very cold morning and you contemplate the selfless sacrifice of so many of long ago and not so long ago. The first year we were here, there I was at work in a meeting and 11 a.m. we stood at our meeting table and bowed our heads for two minutes. Two minutes. And then we went back to our meeting.
While some employers (federal government, The Ottawa Hospital, for example) do give people a day away, most do not. Stores close till about 12:30pm and then it’s open season. Universities hold classes without skipping a beat, schools are open and life goes on.
Like many things in Canada, there is no one size fits all. Some provinces have deigned Remembrance Day as a holiday, some have not. We have the lives and the freedoms we enjoy in our great country because men and women laid their lives on the line for the greater good. Surely we can take a day and make that effort to pause and give thanks. After all, if they hadn’t done what they did, our lives would most decidedly not be what they are today. Seems to me that 24 hours set aside to consider not only to reflect what’s gone on before but to consider why humanity continues to inflect horrors upon its own kind is not too much to ask. In this great country of ours, we should all have time to pay tribute to those who have shaped our freedom. Lest we forget.