Guest comment by Jack Bourassa, regional executive vice-president, North; for the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
Since 1918, November 11, 11 A.M has been a distinguished time – it’s not only a time to remember, but also to reflect and learn. Many of us might have attended a ceremony or observed a moment of silence. The date and the time mark the end of hostilities during World War I (WWI), that took the lives of more than 60,000 Canadians. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. This made it, internationally, a day to commemorate.
Remembrance Day has always been an opportunity for all of us to not only reflect on the historical event of that time, but to be grateful to and appreciate all the brave men and women who served Canada at all times. From coast to coast to coast, we remember those who sacrificed their today for our tomorrow.
There is more to Remembrance Day than wearing a red poppy, attending a ceremony, reading an article or watching a documentary. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that all of those are important and every action count. I was also pleased that this year the Legion provided an option to create a virtual red poppy and share it as a social media badge – an action that PSAC North supported. Having a virtual social media badge was a good idea to extend the conversation and awareness to a demographically diverse population that’s more likely to share this with the convenience of using their smart phones. However, let’s reflect more on how to “remember” beyond wearing the red poppy. I thought twice before writing this after the event itself, but I concluded that it is crucial to keep the conversation going for weeks or months after November 11.
Are you still wondering why I’m writing this after Remembrance Day?
I want us to take the spirit of Remembrance Day to our every day. Let’s do that as we go to work, take a social justice action, give back to our communities and care for one another. Let’s take the collective action of never forgetting. Let’s all defend the rights and freedoms that our brave women and men fought for. Let’s be grateful to those who sacrificed for us to live in a country free from war where human and civil rights are to be protected. How to give back? Let’s be guardians of those rights.
As we remember those who scarified their lives and appreciate our veterans, let’s also hold on to the values of democracy, freedom and justice for all. The first thing that comes to my mind as I “remember” is to never miss a chance to vote. And during elections to make an informed decision to give our votes to those who are going to hold on to the values of social justice and human rights. We have a democracy that was born from the sacrifices of those who fought for us to have it – let’s hold on to it preciously.
Are you still wearing your red poppy? Or are you saving it for next year? Regardless, let’s extend those conversations to our workplaces, communities and families. Remembrance Day is every day.