It’s November 11th.
It’s Remembrance Day (Canada). It’s Veteran’s Day (United States). It’s Armistice Day. Whatever you want to call it… it’s a day to remember the end of World War 1. The war to end all wars. It was supposed to fix all kinds of problems and make it so that a conflict of that size would never be necessary again. The Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 am. 11/11 at 11. It’s been 95 years since that day, and while it certainly wasn’t the War to end all Wars like they thought it would be, a lot of brave men and women did their part in that war to help ensure that I have the freedom I’m so blessed with right now. There’ve been many since, and many more will come, but I am thankful.
Since I was a little kid, I remember the Remembrance Day assemblies at school. We’d shift our classes around and make darn sure we were in the gym over 11:00 am so that we could have our moments of silence. We’d read In Flanders Fields, we’d sing O Canada, we’d listen to The Last Post. No one clapped. No one talked. Everyone was silent. Everyone was respectful, as it should be.
I remember that my teachers always made it really clear why we needed to be so respectful, so quiet, so thoughtful. We needed to show with our bodies that we were thankful for what those who’ve gone before us have done to keep us safe. I went along with it, though I didn’t really truly understand until high school, when they deemed us old enough to show us some videos that really impacted my comprehension of the whole event.
Since November 1918, Remembrance Day has taken on the mantle for all conflicts and all who’ve given their lives in service of this great country, our True North Strong and Free. And I’m glad that it has. I’m glad that even though it is only one day, and I am thankful for my freedom every day, I can still instill into the children that I teach how important it is that we are thankful for our freedom.
This morning at the school I teach at, it was no different. We rearranged everything — we ate lunch at 10:00 am because normally, we’re headed outside for recess right on 11:00 am. We made sure we were in that gym by 10:50 so that we could start, and our moment of silence could coincide with 11:00. It’s symbolic, yes. And it would mean the same thing if we did it at 11:15, absolutely. But the symbolism is beautiful to me. 95 years later, elementary school kids are still sitting in the gym, still, silent, not clapping, not talking (and if you’ve been to an elementary school assembly at all recently, you know this doesn’t normally happen). They were respectful.
The Last Post was played.
Silence was observed.
In Flanders’ Fields was read.
A Song (the name of which I’ve forgotten) was sung beautifully by the Grade 2 and 3 students.
Wreaths made of poppies were laid on crosses to commemorate the lives of those we’ve lost through the years.
And at the end, everyone filed out quietly. Back to every day, back to learning, back to recess they all went… but I know I will never forget. And that’s why I remember.