Remembrance Day 2009: Does anyone remember anymore?

I think it’s rather fitting that the day before Remembrance Day should also be the same day that I start writing my blog posts about conflict, politics, and all things related thereto.

These posts will be written as letters to a friend of mine who is currently in training in the Canadian military, and in whom I have an enormous amount of faith — he’s extremely well read and (at least in my opinion) has chosen a life in the military for the right reasons. These Tuesday posts will be my regular ode to the things he inspires me to investigate (even though he doesn’t know it), and the things I think we’d talk of if he was able to sit, nightly, at my kitchen table with our intoxicant of choice.

…I suppose I should email him and let him know he can be expecting a letter from me, once a week.

This week is a little bit special, of course, since it’s not only the beginning of these posts, it’s also concerning a day during which we honour and remember those fallen and fighting.

Dear GW,

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, and I’ve got a problem: everywhere I look, I seem to see a lack of remembering. I wonder, of course, if it’s my perception of the matter or if it’s actually happening. I do know one thing, though: I am a victim of the virus that is un-remembering. I am sad to admit this, but I haven’t truly taken pause as I should have on Remembrance Day in quite some time. Four years ago when I was on my semester in Harlow, I wrote a journal entry that expresses what I feel about the whole day perfectly: we do the whole ceremonial thing, and there’s a whole load of pomp and circumstance, but how many people are actually remembering? How many people actually have any sense of what they should be remembering? And how much of this ceremonial stuff is just the left-overs from antiquated ceremonies that celebrate antiquated battles? And maybe it’s just me, but I do wonder at the ease with which we seem to “remember” the Great Wars, in contrast with the trouble we seem to have honouring those men and women who’ve dedicated themselves in more recent conflicts, and currently: can we re-write the book with them in it, as they should be?

I appreciate that asking some of those questions seems disrespectful, but I don’t in the least mean it to be. My grandfather is a WWII veteran, and I was raised with a real sense of what he and his fellow soldiers gave for their country. I have heard him speak of his time at war, and I am in awe every time. I have the greatest respect for him and for anyone who has dedicated their time and effort so completely to their country (that includes you). I suppose it is difficult for me to think on the grizzly actualities of war and reconcile them with the bunch of grade sixes I heard sing of giving peace a chance, this morning. I find this troubling, because normally I am so optimistic and involved in anything hopeful and joyous, but I find myself thinking of my grandfather and how he came to talk to my class when I was in grade four about the things he did at war, and I remember feeling — even at that age — that he was being made to be a spectacle: “look at this man — he’s seen real war!”

Maybe I’m remiss. Maybe I’m feeling like this is the case in the world and it’s actually not that bad. Maybe people do know and care more than I give them credit for.

I sure as Hell hope so.

Much love,

Sara

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