The right way to reflect on November 11

The moment of silence at 11 o’clock is standard, but some provinces keep business open on Nov. 11 (Cara Smith/AQ)

It was their last day in the village. Corporal Michael MacAulay was approached by a man on a camel. When MacAulay’s lieutenant searched the newcomer, the man detonated. He was a suicide bomber.

MacAulay took shrapnel in the elbow. After the ensuing chaos he remembers being transported while helping to monitor his Lieutenant who was in a much more serious condition. MacAulay serves in the Second Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment in Gagetown, New Brunswick. He was on tour in Afghanistan in 2010. Having spent time in the military has changed his views on Remembrance Day.

“Now it’s more real,” he said. “[It’s] a ‘been there done that’ type of thing, having buddies who aren’t coming home.”
On Sunday, Canada remembered the brave soldiers who fought and died in the name of freedom. Row by row people stood in the cold watching the wreath-laying ceremony, or took a moment of silence. Or they stayed home and cracked a beer.

Unlike other provinces, New Brunswick gets the day off for Remembrance Day. Some places have assemblies during the day or a moment of silence. What is the worth of staying home on Remembrance Day?

Canada lost 158 soldiers since the mission in Afghanistan began. MacAulay losing friends.. He says people should have the choice of what to do He knows of some comrades who will stay home because of the reminder this day brings.

He remembers learning about the First and Second World Wars in school, but he was learning about strangers. Now he knows the names and faces of those who died. He says it’s important people get the day off because it means more than mere moments of respect.

“Honestly I think there should be more than that,” he said. “These people took their lives, they took years, and they took their families. They took everything. It should be a bit more than afew minutes of silence.”

Rachel Kish is a first-year student at St. Thomas University. She thinks having a moment of silence as they do in other provinces shows some kind of thanks, but doesn’t have the same impact as a whole day devoted to the veterans.

“Honestly I think our generation is really lacking the respect that should come along with Remembrance Day,” Kish said.

Some people won’t take the time to remember on their day off. Some will sleep past the eleventh hour. For some it will come and go without a thought. Kish thinks it’s a broader problem than just the shortcomings of an unregulated day off.

“I’ve noticed – I was actually looking the other day – only one and five students were wearing a poppy. I find that totally disrespectful. We live free lives. We live in a free country. We have good things because what men and women did to get us there.”

Is a day off enough? Kish doesn’t think so. On Remembrance Day, she thinks people should pay attention to the root of it all – remembrance.

“I don’t necessarily think that everyone needs to go to the parade downtown, but I think that moment of silence to just really reflect on what happened is definitely important,” she said.

Caleb Burns is a fourth-year student at St. Thomas. He grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick. His method of remembrance is the Remembrance Day ceremony with wreaths, veterans, speeches, and hymns.. He believes it’s important to both have a day off and to also celebrate. In the end, we decide what we do on New Brunswick’s day off.

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