Should Remembrance Day be a statutory holiday?
This debate continues in Parliament as, once again, a Private Member’s Bill has been introduced in the House of Commons that would make Remembrance Day a national legal holiday.
Members of the Canadian Forces have generally opposed the idea, as they work on statutory holidays. The Royal Canadian Legion also has not been in favour of such a change. Personally, I have always loved being invited to visit schools on November 11th, to join veterans and other speakers in an auditorium for a service of remembrance. Every year, teachers and students do an amazing job putting on a special programme that honours our veterans – those that gave their lives, as well as those whose lives were forever changed by the experience.
Peter and I also love being at the cenotaph at Old City Hall, where the sentry soldiers representing each war stand motionless throughout a truly powerful ceremony. We cannot help but be moved as ‘In Flanders Field’ is read (sometimes a little badly), ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’ is sung, and the Last Post played on the trumpet. We look skyward to the roar of the flypast, and then watch as the wreaths are presented one by one.
I often wonder: If November 11th were to become a national holiday, would there still be thousands of children and youth joining us to participate in the ceremony?
I am not so sure.
If Remembrance Day was a holiday, could the school events be done on the day before? Perhaps. But where would the majority of children be at 11:00 AM, as the country observes the moment of silence? If they weren’t in school for those ceremonies, would students consider November 11th to be any different than just another day off?
Again, I am not sure.
But one thing is for sure. Every year in our household we remember my Dad, who landed at Juno Beach as part of the 30th Battalion and then defended the bridge at Nijmegen. We remember Peter’s father, who was a Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain – ‘one of the few’.
And we always read Peter’s father’s favourite poem:
The drum is silent now,
And the wind sighs
Where once they walked;
And the stars, which watched
The valour of their days,
At each new dusk
Let us continue the debate about whether Remembrance Day should be a statutory holiday. Let me know what you think. But, regardless, we all need to make the time for the ceremonies that ensure we Never Forget.