Virtual Remembrance Day or not: we will not forget our veterans

Next week’s Remembrance Day ceremony be unlike any that have come before it, but in no way should that diminish its significance.

Without question, the brave men and women who have served this country deserve to be recognized.

COVID-19 has forced the reconfiguration of Remembrance Day ceremonies across Canada, pushing them to a virtual format. There will be no Canadian Armed Forces or veterans parades to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when Allied forces were declared victorious as Germany signed an armistice agreement, effectively ending WWI.

Watching uniformed men and women march the street offer those of us fortunate to live the last 75 years free of a major world war a small glimpse of what it could have felt like welcoming heroes back from WWI or WWII.

If there’s a small consolation that can be taken from the fact that Remembrance Day ceremonies won’t take place outside in communities across this region it’s this: typical crowd sizes would far outpace what is deemed safe by Public Health’s guidelines for outdoor gatherings. If nothing else, it’s comforting to know there’s still enough interest from the public to line the street to watch as members of the Royal Canadian Legion lay wreaths at the base of the cenotaph and stand for a moment of silence to remember those who didn’t make it home.

Granted, it’s a small consolation. For some, Nov. 11 is one of the few times they get to interact with living history, to talk to a veteran who was actually called overseas or pressed into action on the home front. While Remembrance Day recognizes all who served, this year is a particularly meaningful one, as it will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. As if that wasn’t a good enough reason to purchase a poppy this year, add to the fact that Legions across the country are hurting due to the lost revenue associated with COVID-19 closures. Legions do great things for a community far beyond providing a place for those with a military background to congregate-they support local hospitals, hospices and community groups that benefit everyone. There’s no doubt they could use any extra pocket change they can get after a difficult 2020-after decades of helping the community, it’d be a great time for the community to return the favour.

Along with honouring those who served, Nov. 11 is also a great time to reflect on just how fortunate we are to enjoy the rights and freedoms that can often be taken for granted. We’re closing in on a full life time free of a world war-a stark contrast to someone born in 1910, who would have lived through two major conflicts before their 35th birthday.

In a year where it’s been easy to lament all that we’ve missed out on, a little perspective never hurts. If being asked to wear a mask and to stay home is the biggest hardship this generation has to face, it’s worth thanking a veteran.

-Adam Prudhomme

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