Do we still want to remember?

Today's commentary from Kelly Graham.


A fading symbol? (Photo: Kelly Graham)

Perhaps the question should be, “Is November 11 just another long weekend for most people?” Earlier this week I was shocked to see the lack of effort put into Remembrance Day by various societal institutions. I kept running into people, while researching a story, who at first assured me things were happening but were ultimately unable to provide any information.

Everyone I spoke to was certain of two things.

First, someone, definitely not them, was organizing stuff for Remembrance Day. Second, they had the day off.

This tells me a couple of things. Many people have a long weekend due to the holiday, and they aren’t planning on attending a ceremony. I know they aren’t because they couldn’t tell me of a single one that was going on.

Both the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University are leading the charge to embrace the 11 of November as just another long weekend within the HRM academic community. Both recently stretched the weekend into a four-day extra long weekend by making Nov. 10 a study day.

Old faces give way to New

Waning interest in remembrance on campuses was understandable a decade ago. The great wars were a distant memory with few veterans remaining. Canada had yet to invade Afghanistan, and the odds that a student personally knew a veteran of a non-peace keeping mission was extremely low.


There will be a Remembrance Day ceremony held in the University of King's College's chapel at 5:30 p.m.

With Canada’s mission in Afghanistan coming to an end with a death toll at 158 our mental picture of a veteran must change. Recent alumni are now counted within the ranks of returning combat veterans.

Students will be instrumental in helping shape Canada’s evolving military policy. Now that we have decided taking an active military role is reasonable, more than ever we should take a moment to pause and reflect on the consequences of our choices.

Finding a ceremony

People keep telling me that interested students will be able to find their own services to attend. But my journalist colleague and I, veterans of an intensive research class, had difficulty tracking down this information. Chances are that all but the most dedicated students will give up in frustration especially since this is mid-term week.

The problem with this line of thought is that it allows the universities to abdicate their responsibility to provoke meaningful social commentary.

Many of the people I talked to this week while chasing Remembrance Day stories admitted, to their own surprise, they should know what’s going on but don’t.

The weekend of the eleventh has become just another long weekend to most. Clearly we need to have an intelligent conversation about what the meaning of Remembrance Day is now.

Unfortunately this is a conversation that will not be taking place on our campuses on Friday.


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