Tomorrow, it will snow, if the weather forecast is correct. This will make for an interesting Remembrance Day at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, where I live.

I have been to the War Memorial in all weather, including snow, but I do not ever remember it snowing through the ceremony before, except for a few flurries.

Each Remembrance Day that passes now, I find myself wondering how schools will mark the day, for Remembrance Day is not usually a day off for schoolchildren.

Each Remembrance Day when I was in school, and even in university and medical school, all activity would stop at 11 a.m. for everyone to observe 2 minutes of silence, often accompanied by the Last Post. In high school, I recall that there was always an assembly and a bugler from the school band would perform the Last Post. What was poignant for us was that many of the youth who had gone to War, both the First and Second World Wars, had been our age, or just a bit older. I wonder if people in high school still think about this today. I have asked the teens I saw last week whether they had been reminded of this, and it seems as though many had not. It seems many of them did not know this.

What was different when I was young was that some of our teachers were veterans of World War II, as were many of our parents. Today, in Canada, many youth never had a chance to meet their great grandparents, who would have been the veterans of World War II, and we really do not honour the veterans of more recent conflicts in the same way. This is not to our credit, that we do not understand or appreciate how the conflicts where Canadian servicemen and women serve today keep us safe and free in this country.

It is only if you ask someone who is serving, or has recently served, that you will learn this – and I hope that Veterans will be present tomorrow in schools across Canada, to speak about the places where they have served, and why.

I do have a nephew currently serving in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He was deployed for months last year and, while he was away, his mother was worried sick about him. She and I have visited the War Museum together and it was poignant for her that many Veterans there understood her concerns, and comforted her.

When every student in every school in Canada observed two minutes of silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day, and heard the stories of war from Veterans directly, you could never forget the sacrifices of those who had served, and their families.

Tomorrow, I will stop at 11 a.m. to observe 2 minutes of silence, as I have done for years. I will think about poppies in the snow.

(Photo credit)


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