Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Day is probably my favourite of the holidays and quasi-holidays on the calendar. That is likely because it is the only one in Canada that, aside from the ones where it is obvious (Canada Day), is not divorced from its intentions and origins. Halloween, for example, really wasn't intended to be a day where children trick-or-treating and women choose from a wide variety of skanky (skanky Viking, skanky nurse, skanky Supreme Court justice) costumes to wear to lame parties. I also happen to like the poppy, which is a sharp accessory for which greater allowance must be made year-round.

More to the point, the solemnity of Remembrance Day, moreso than any other day, underscores the fact that we are, in fact, a country and that being a country is serious business. Our history has been fortunately placid and our crises fortunately overblown in comparison to virtually every other country in the world. It would be an understatement to say that we have had it easy as a country. As a result, the dead of foreign wars are a rare reminder that we live in luxury. Roughly 110,000 Canadians died in the two World Wars from a population of around 10 million. The red on the Canadian flag is clearly more than aesthetic.

This is the reason I don't think Remembrance Day should ever be a holiday. With a holiday comes a long weekend and with the long weekend comes near-complete obscurity for what the holiday supposedly commemorates. Remembrance Day, at least, should be a day untainted by forty-percent discounts at The Bay and an extra beer in every case. The disconnect between such holidays or traditions and their celebration mirrors the disconnect between the things, material and immaterial, that we enjoy and knowing how they got to us. Just about everything that makes being a Canadian the envy of the world appears magically and literally at the press of a button. If we know no other history, we should know the history of those who gave their lives for our sake and that of others and those who continue to do so.

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