Remembrance Day today... a day to recognize those who gave their lives for our freedom. A day to say thanks to all Veterans and Canadian troops who have served and continue to do so...
Yet, I am utterly appalled to hear several local schools are allowing students to "opt out" of participation in Remembrance Day ceremonies. And there are parents who choose not to allow their child to participate and take their kids out of any ceremonies on reason of their own choice.
People just don't get it anymore.
And while there are those, including many Veterans, voicing their disapproval of these actions to opt out of recognizing the troops who gave their lives for our freedom, Remembrance Day was always something I'll admit I never really got as a kid either.. and what I did get was it was a statutory holiday and another 'day off' from school or work.. fuck yeah!
I mean I would see all the parades and shit at city hall on the teevee; we did the ceremonies at school; wore poppies and all.. two minutes of silence at 11:00 on the 11th day on the 11th month.. officially commemorating when WW1 ended and Armistice was signed in 1918.. yeah yeah..I got the deets... I paid attention in Social Studies...
You see, my ancestors have a different history.. they didn't fight in the Great War.. they ran from the Japanese; they ran from Communists; they starved on their own farms.. Chinese immigrants celebrate "Ching Ming"..we get pastries and BBQ pork from Chinatown and have a picnic at the graveyard to acknowledge our ancestors.. So on Remembrance Day.. we get the day off!! WooHoo!
On May 2010, I was particularly intrigued hearing on the news about the Netherlands having more Canadian flags waving in one town than all of Canada. I just figured, fuck, those Dutch must really like hockey or something... indeed they do.. BUT FOR OTHER REASONS.
Watching news clip after news clip, I saw 100s of thousands of Dutch people cheering, crying, mobbing, and honouring a bunch of these old codgers, Veterans, getting limo'd around on their streets.. Mothers of small children, teenagers, people in their 20's and 30's who never knew WW1 or 2, for that matter, running up to these old fuckers just to get a kiss or a simple touch! Then they interviewed these fanatics... they said they wanted their children to know they touched a person who liberated their country 65 years ago.
Flags and banners waved:
"THANK YOU CANADA- WE WILL NEVER FORGET" and "THANK YOU FOR OUR LIBERATION CANADA- WE LOVE YOU"
It was quite the spectacle to behold. Memorial burial places in the Netherlands were gathered by literally 100s upon 100s of thousands placing flowers and candles on Canadian soldiers' graves and headstones.. "They never let a whipper snipper touch those headstones; they hand cut the grass with scissors.." said some old Canadian Vet in an interview..
The revelation suddenly dawned on me then... "They do remember.."
You see, the Dutch deliberately keep in sharp focus what it meant to be hunted down like animals, starved and beaten, and killed during the war. They forget neither those crushed under Nazi occupation at home, nor those who went off to their deaths in battle. The memory is kept alive by public policy and personal conviction. These people realize what it meant to lose their freedom.. and they remember what it took to get it back...
THEY GET IT.
"To show their appreciation to the pilots who dropped food from the air, many Dutch people painted, "Thank you, Canadians!" on their rooftops. In honour of their gift of freedom Dutch people have donated 10,000 tulip bulbs to Canada for the National Capital Region, annually since the war's end. For 1995, the Netherlands donated an additional 5,000 bulbs for Parliament Hill, 1,000 for each provincial and territorial capital and 1,000 for Ste. Anne's hospital in Saint-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que. (the only remaining federal hospital in Canada, administered by Veterans Affairs Canada) "
It is tempting to feel our Canadian pride upon seeing all of this; BUT what really dawned on me also was the Dutch challenged my thoughtlessness that day. I am embarassed about my delinquency as an adult. What the Dutch say rings true..
"It is our duty to remember and teach future generations what it means to be free.."
This quote will forever haunt me of my ignorance and obtuseness. For forty years, I took for granted what this all meant.. I didn't get it. But, it's not too late.. It's never too late to pause and reflect on the real price for my lifetime of peace, freedom, and opportunity, is it?
In fact, I think we all have the moral obligation and the social responsibility to teach our children why we even have the freedom to be able to 'opt out' of anything in the first place.
So today, as I have every year since that day I was enlightened by the Dutch, I set aside my X-rated prose about Wall Street's inner workings, hold back my perverted cynicism about politics and current economic outlook, and instead choose to nurture memory and appreciation.
Today I give thanks to those who made the ultimate sacrifice so I can enjoy my everyday freedom.
Today I will pray for those who gave everything, and for those being now asked for their all..
Lest We Forget...
|"Many Thanks" in tulips...|