An article on the Global News site titled “Fewer Canadians plan to wear poppies this Remembrance Day, poll finds” made me think again about what Remembrance Day is for. The article opens:
Fewer people plan to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies or wear poppies this year, according to a poll from Historica Canada that also suggests knowledge of Canadian military history is dwindling.
To be fair, I’d suggest knowledge of pretty much everything factual is dwindling. One only need look at social media posts from anti-vaxxers, or anti-maskers to see how much knowledge of science and medicine has been lost in recent years. And, like most followers of pseudoscience and conspiracies, such stupidity is a self-inflicted wound.
And, too, it is difficult to fault people for not attending group ceremonies during a pandemic when health officials are warning against large gatherings. Non-participation on Remembrance Day in 2020 might have a lot to do with that. This year, like many others in our community, we observed our two minutes of silence at home.
I’ve found it’s a bit difficult to even find poppies this year: I have only seen them for sale in the post office, locally. Of course, this year I have not looked for them in as many places as in previous years, so I might not have visited a location where they were available.
Still, excuses aside, I wonder what other reasons people would have for not participating. Are people just getting jaded? Or simply don’t care about showing respect? Are we losing our collective memories as we lose our veterans?
I recall writing an editorial for the newspaper some decades back, asking where all the municipal employees were, who got a holiday on Remembrance Day but didn’t show up at the cenotaph for the ceremonies. And standing there during the silence, I could always see trucks and cars racing by on First Street, and pedestrians and cyclists going about their business, ignorant of the significance of the events taking place a hundred or so meters away.