On the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month, we stop in silence and remember. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, as Remembrance Day this year proved to be especially poignant for Canadians. Crowds at the nation’s capital witnessed the rededication of the National War Memorial to include all who have served Canada. The country’s grief for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was felt in the very place where he was shot and killed less than three weeks ago. Ottawa police estimate the ceremony drew crowds of 50,000, while most years see approximately 35,000 people. But those who gather at the National War Memorial are not the only ones who remember.
This year, our MPs voted by an overwhelming majority in favour for Nov. 11 to become a statutory holiday across Canada. When I heard this on the news, I thought our veterans would be quite pleased since a national holiday would be the proper way to honour them. Yet, a CTV News story described a Second World War veteran who prefers a different type of honour. Harry Watts said he believes many citizens would treat Remembrance Day as any other day off. For him, two minutes of silence to pay tribute across the country would mean more than a national holiday. He wants us to remember.
Every year at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day I reflect and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for peace, justice and liberty. I think about the freedoms in my life. I have the privilege to live in a country where I feel safe, I can look forward to every day and I’m close to the people I love. I owe my freedom in large part to men and women who did not live to experience it. I remember them because I’m thankful. And I remember them because they deserve to be remembered. Their lives ended far too soon, but their memory can live on through us — the ones for whom they sacrificed so much and yet will never know.