Recent acts of terror
Soldiers killed on Canadian soil
Fear and suspicion has opportunity to reign
But instead is shoved aside
By the courage of everyday citizens
Who move in to help, lay flowers to remember, stand quietly in honour
For these men and all who have served
Let us turn out en masse on Remembrance Day
All across the beautiful, peaceful place that is our Canada
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.
Our father, Bill Allen, served in the army in World War II. He initially trained others to drive tanks here on Canadian soil and then he served overseas-Northern Africa and Italy. He service ended before the end of the war due to serious illness. He contracted rheumatic fever and was sent home.
He was a man of solid character, our Dad. A bit of a rascal some would say. Well perhaps many would say that and we (three daughters) enjoyed his sense of adventure, wit and humour. He was full of mischief. His service in the war was never a big topic of conversation or perhaps I just wasn’t listening. If it was the latter, that is a shame for Dad never lived long enough for me to be wise enough to ask him more. He died at the relatively young age of 61 in 1979. I can only imagine the experience, the impact and the horrors of war that our Dad experienced.
Men and women who served and returned must hope and trust their work and sacrifice makes the world a better place. This was brought home to me in a very real way when in the 1970’s I was held up at gun point while working in a pharmacy in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was not harmed. Shaken, but not harmed. When I called my Dad to tell him what had happened, he said “I never served in the war so that some ba@#$rd could hold a gun to my daughter’s head!”. And I thought how he and others might have held hope the world would be rid of all evil as a result of their efforts.
If Dad were alive today, I’d travel to wherever he lived from wherever I lived. I’d accompany him to a Remembrance Day Ceremony. And I would tell him the world is a better place because of his service.
Thank you Dad.