The Generation We Honour on Remembrance Day Set an Example For us All

Reflections on the day and a nod to the caring of some young people.


Remembrance Day, like so many things, was very different this year. I tuned in to watch the national service. Where there would normally be a large parade, bands and thousands of people, a very limited representation was present in order to keep the total in the perimeter of the National War Memorial to 100 people.

Masks were the norm. People were spread out six feet apart. Small contingents of the military marched up to the cenotaph. What was absent was the contingent of our aging veterans, the generation most vulnerable to COVID.

I’ve become used to seeing people, including our leaders, wearing masks. I have to admit, it still does jar me a bit to see people not shaking hands but tapping elbows. It’s good though, it reminds us to avoid physical contact outside our immediate circles.


The Context of The Greatest Generation


When Canada went to war in 1939 we had a population of about 11 million people. Over 1 million responded to the call to serve. Today there are about 22,000 WW2 veterans still living. To add a little more context here, let’s take a moment to think about that era.

In 1914 Canada went to war, the war to end all wars they called it. Canada had a population of 8million people. Just over 619,000 joined up, 60,000 were killed. As it was winding down in 1918 the Spanish Flu pandemic was winding up. Troops coming home from war spread the disease westward as they travelled home to their families. Before the pandemic ended in 1920 about 50,000 were dead, mostly in the 20 to 40 year old age group.

In 1929 the market crash brought in the Great Depression. A decade long period of economic suffering that those who joined up for WW2 were raised through. Life hadn’t been easy by any means for the vast majority of them.

It’s been 75 years since the end of WW2. My thoughts have repeatedly gone to that time and the incredible example of service and sacrifice those veterans represent. They spent years overseas often in horrific conditions.

For those here on the home front during the war, rationing was the norm. Resources needed for the war effort had priority allocation. The remaining resources were distributed through a ration card system to prevent hoarding and profiteering. Rationing started in 1942 with sugar and then coffee, tea, butter and meat in 1943. The best cuts of meat went to feed the troops. It was mostly organ meats being rationed at home.

Books of ration stamps were issued to be used at specified shops. If you went to another, you could be fined or jailed. The foods not rationed were not always in strong supply, so families had to be creative. Many started small gardens to supplement their rations.

When I think about what that generation went through, I find myself short of patience for the selfishness of so many who are being asked to follow public health measures for the good of all. The majority of Canadians do follow them. It’s the minority, an often loud minority, who don’t.

They think their ‘rights’ are being taken away from them. Who the fuck do they think earned them those ‘rights’ other than the very generation they so willingly endanger?

Okay, before I wander off on a rant on that subject.


The Dedication and Selflessness of Local Cadets


This morning I came across this video about the Cadet Vigil. The cadet corp is a quasi-military youth program some what similar to the ROTC in the US. In each of the last several years the cadets have mounted a vigil on the night of November 10th until after the ceremony on November 11th.

They were unable to do the vigil this year, the video was a project they undertook instead.

During the vigils they take turns in two hour shifts throughout the night. November nights in Canada can mean freezing temperatures, rain or even snow. Or all three. Can you imagine as a teenager wanting to do that? These kids don’t just want to, they consider it a privilege to be allowed to.

Take a few minutes to watch the video:



I have worked with many of the youngsters who appear on this video. They often will show up to help at community events. When they take a task on, they are dead serious to do it and do it well. And then they have fun.

One year at Christmas time some cadets arrived to help distribute Christmas food baskets to members of the community. We were in the middle of a freezing rain event. One of our recipients called, the driver in the family had been hospitalized. Could we deliver the hamper? The caller cautioned me the driveway was long and quite icy.

I called out to the drivers and their helpers to see if we had one willing to assist. I saw a young cadet speak to her dad and then raise her hand. I repeated the caution about it being so icy. Her response was a very confident and firm “I have combats on and there is grass beside the drive I can break through the ice and forge a path”. Her dad nodded and we sent the hamper off with them.

I was told later, she made three trips down that drive to deliver the hamper and wouldn’t allow her dad to help.

It’s the same determination that has them standing vigil for two hours in freezing cold temperatures and thinking it’s a small thing to show appreciation for the freedoms we’ve been given.


Lest We Forget


Header Image: Screenshot from video


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 Shadowspub is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms.


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 She created Prompt A Day to share with others. You can subscribe to Prompt A Day for a set of ideas in your inbox every day. 

COMMENT

16

Kemmy B.
11 Nov

This is a though-provoking piece that calls for the younger ones and everyone to not take for granted the freedom we have been given. It was from your daily prompt email that I became aware that November 11 of every year is a Remembrance Day in Canada. A day to honour the services and sacrifices of all those who went to war on behalf of your country and the world at large. 

Indeed, they are directly responsible for the privileges and freedom you now enjoy which some do not seem to take seriously. No one in the present generation should pray to experience any war. It's a catastrophic thing and I don't want to imagine living in those times. I know this from my history books on the world wars. Our war veterans should be appreciated always! The younger ones should never take anything for granted but look up to these veterans as heros, emulating their patriotism and sacrificial love for your country. 

On the issue of public safety measures in these COVID times, everyone should stick to the public health measures and some kind of penalty may be issued against the 'minority' who do not believe in these measures but would rather risk the lives of others. 

I salute your war veterans, they are indeed heros and will always be remembered for their sacrifices! I salute your Cadet Corp, they are shining examples for youths all over the world! Happy Rememberance Day ma'am. 

22

Shadows Pub
12 Nov

Yes, I did make note in the prompts. The fiction prompt for the day directly related. 

This time of year the schools take time to teach about Remembrance at all grade levels. The veterans organization the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Forces support their activities by sending veterans into the schools. It's a great way to show the children that as much as we honour and revere our war veterans, everyone who serves becomes a veteran. 

When I used to do the presentations to the children, we always made sure there were war veterans there and would create a time period for the children to go up and talk to them. Then we'd do question period. The questions were thoughtful and respectful. The children without prompting would line up at the end to be able to shake hands with the veterans. 

The first time it happened one of their teachers were trying to call them to order as they had been told to line up to walk back to their school. An older teacher finally called over to the younger one and said "leave them, these heroes will not live forever". The veterans were so touched that the children were showing how much they cared. 

11

Oluwafemi Olofin
11 Nov

The peace and serenity of our country and environment is as a result of the sweat, efforts, blood and even lives of some people. 

Let's do well to always remember their love of sacrifice towards making the country what it is now

May the good Lord grant all the fallen heroes an eternal rest in his kingdom.

22

Shadows Pub
12 Nov

So many stories of courage and fortitude. So many of them returned to work tirelessly to continue building our country in so many ways.

1

soner özer
13 Nov

Disembodied beings of the kingdom of God Angels..

All beings who embrace and obey God live eternally in Her Kingdom..

22

Shadows Pub
13 Nov

I see you are new... adding comments to a post that are not relevant and don't show you actually read the post can get you downvoted. 

spamming is not acceptable on Uptrennd ... write relevant comments which reflect knowledge of the contents of the post. 

8

MATHEW ADAMU
13 Nov

Social distancing must be observed nowadays especially when it concerning crowded or density of people at a given occasion or parade ground that masks are for compulsory to avoid spread of virus.

We are just living by God grace ooo.

22

Shadows Pub
14 Nov

yes it is very important to follow the public health measures. Normally on Remembrance Day services are held in every community across the country with a large community turnout. This year small observances were carried out at 11am and people were urged to come out of their homes to observe the 2 minutes of silence at 11am.

12

siddharth haribhai
14 Nov

in a nutshell we youngsters need to appreciate the essence of life and contribute positively to society

22

Shadows Pub
14 Nov

A very short and sweet summary Siddharth. Those cadets you saw in the video and in the story I share very much set the example on that. They have learned to have fun and serve their community. Lessons which they will carry into adulthood.

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