Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In memory

For a Canadian, being in the US in the runup to Veterans' Day is sort of weird. Remembrance Day is always a fairly low-key and somber affair, so watching downtown Washington prepare for a gigantic rock concert to honour veterans was sort of surreal. It's all part of the way that the military is a much more visible and integrated part of American society than it is in Canada, but it's also because the U.S., of course, has two holidays to fill the roles played by our one.

As odd as the result may seem to me on Veterans' Day, I like the idea of having two separate holidays. That's because while it's absolutely important to pay tribute to veterans and their service and sacrifice, I often find that comes at the extent of one of the original purposes of the holiday -- back when it was still called Armistice Day -- which was to mark the end of war, to not just honour but also mourn the lives lost, and to loudly say, "Never again."

Like everyone my age, I grew up in the shadow of war, one that hung over our heads for a generation. We need to remember that that war didn't happen, in large part, because we didn't let it happen: because we marched and advocated for peace -- a part of the story that we've mostly allowed to be left out. At the same times as we honour those that fought for us, we also should remember what we won by the wars we didn't fight.

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