Remembrance Day - A Day To Remember Those Who Fought For Freedom
Military service seems to run in my blood, in one respect or another.
My dad was in the military for 24 and a half years; my husband just retired from the military just two short years ago. I was in the reserves for a year, and my mom was in the military for a couple of years as well.
As a result of all these connections to the military, I can't help but take both the Canadian national anthem and Remembrance Day quite seriously. I make sure students remove any headwear (outside of that which is worn for religious reasons) during the national anthem and that they stand quietly for the whole 90 seconds or so that the anthem is playing. I would do no less if I was in a school in another country; it's important to recognize your nation and all that it stands for.
I treat Remembrance Day with equal seriousness. Rather than launching right into the grammar lesson of the day today, I tied in my experiences of having been to Vimy Ridge as a teen living in Europe, explaining to students that some thousands of people - some who were roughly not much older than they are now - were injured or killed trying to claim just a 4 kilometre stretch of land that no other nation had been able to wrest from Germany. I told them about having been through the Maginot Line and seen the facilities that had been built to keep armies going; an army, after all, runs on its stomach.
Finally, I also told them what it was like to see grave markers labelled "one soldier of the Great War..." "two soldiers of the Great War...." "Three soldiers of the Great War," and realize just how devastating the injuries and deaths truly were. I was only a teenager who had no idea what life was all about, and in those moments, I was able to realize just how good I really had it.
It did not matter one iota whether the power went out, or whether I was grounded overnight for something I'd done. I had a pretty damn good life, and I wasn't in a trench somewhere, holding my bayoneted rifle as I wondered whether I'd get through the next battle. I was warm, regularly fed, and I wasn't fearful for my life.
I was lucky, and this Remembrance Day, I remember.
Vimy Ridge - Unforgettable
Freedoms To Keep Fighting For Following The US Election
The United States election results have left people worldwide reeling, for one reason or another, and while it would be incredibly easy to pound anyone who might have disagreed with where your vote went, that is not fighting for freedom. That is just being violent for the sake of violence's sake, and that is inexcusable.
Nations have fought hard for the democracy they currently enjoy, and while there are many communities and individuals worldwide who might be dismayed at the results that saw Donald Trump become elected president of the United States, we have to remember to keep fighting for the freedoms that we currently enjoy.
Jennifer Lawrence wrote an insightful essay that encouraged others to avoid violence in the wake of what many are deeming a potential clawback of human rights that could see things thrown back to where North America was at in the 1950s. She encouraged those who might be entertaining violent protest to reconsider.
"Do not let this defeat you—let this enrage you," she urged. "Let it motivate you! Let this be the fire you didn't have before. If you are an immigrant, if you are a person of color, if you are LGBTQ+, if you are a woman—don't be afraid, be loud!"
All of these communities fought for all the rights that they currently enjoy, and while some might be terrified of losing those rights, there is no need to turn to violence. It was once said that the pen is mightier than the sword; in uncertain times like these, we need to remember to use our heads and our hearts to drive us to what's right.
It's all too easy to beat someone senseless or draw a firearm on someone and pull the trigger simply because they disagree with you. We have had countless thousands die because they fought for freedom; we need to rise and be more powerful than that. We need to be loud, and tell those who would strip us of our freedoms that we will not tolerate that; that we will do what we can to ensure our message of hope reaches all ears, so that all communities feel welcome rather than threatened. That won't be found at the end of a gun or through a closed fist.
We had so many die for freedoms we now enjoy; why don't we continue their fight and continue to live?