On November 11, we recognize Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate the armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember those who have served, and continue to serve our country. We especially remember the more than 118,000 Canadians who have made the ultimate sacrifice in their service.
In a typical year, many of us would gather in groups at our local cenotaph, Legion, or park, etc. for formal Remembrance Day events. Some of us would proudly march in parades, and lay wreaths in honour of those who have fallen. But this year, as we know, is anything but typical. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything that we do and even a ceremony as significant and important as Remembrance Day is not immune to this.
This year, in light of the pandemic and our rising number of COVID-19 cases in this province, along with the provincial orders in place, we are being asked to recognize this day differently. It is particularly important to limit the size of gatherings as many veterans, as seniors, are particularly at risk. This will be very difficult, especially for veterans who take some solace in this annual ceremony of remembrance.
This year’s National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa will be different, with a very intimate ceremony and no parades. And although we won’t be gathering in person for our local ceremonies, there are some other ways to recognize this very important day: stay home and observe ceremonies on TV or online (check with your local Legion for details on livestreams of local ceremonies), take some time to remember your own family’s contribution, and share those stories with your loved ones. And, if you have a veteran in your life, reach out and make a connection.
It’s not lost on me that the first Remembrance Day was observed at a time when the world was reeling from the flu pandemic. There are people who will remember first-hand that experience, even now, more than 100 years later, as we find ourselves in the grips of our own health crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us of so much; let’s not let compassion be one of them.
Lest we forget.
Chair, Squamish-Lillooet Regional District