Remembering the stories of those who fought for Canada
Every year, on November 11, Canadians come together to remember and show their respect for the men and women that have served and continue to serve our country in the Armed Forces.
Many Canadians take part in the holiday by attending ceremonies, which include two minutes of silence at 11 am. Most Remembrance Day ceremonies also incorporate the playing of the Last Post, laying of wreaths, and readings of John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields. Poppies are worn as well leading up to and on the holiday as a symbol of remembrance.
But what should Canadians be remembering every November 11? According to Veterans Affairs Canada, Canadians should remember the contributions of all those that fought in either of the World Wars, in the Korean War, in Afghanistan and all those that took part in peacekeeping missions. Additionally, Canadians should remember the nurses and those on the home front that contributed to the war effort.
While Canadians are supposed to remember all those that fought on our behalf, many wartime stories are rarely discussed. Countless incredible women contributed to Canada’s successes in war, such as Major Margaret Macdonald, who was the Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Nursing Service during World War One. The No.2 Construction Battalion is seldom heard of as well, even though it was the first and only all-Black battalion formed in Canada despite facing intense racism.
Canadians should also take a moment to remember the experiences of Aboriginal people who volunteered to fight for Canada. We should hear about the stories of the courageous tunneller, Sam Gloade, and the most highly decorated Aboriginal person from World War One; Frances Pegahmagabow. They risked their lives for Canada, but have seemingly faded from Canada’s collective memory.
Canada is struggling to represent the wide variety of people who fought for her by choosing to look at the overall wartime history instead of the individual stories. Individuals from every background, ethnicity, race, or gender that served on behalf of Canada should have their wartime experiences shared equally and with respect in our country’s history.
Of course, it is impossible to tell the stories of every person that fought for Canada on one day each year. Luckily, projects such as R.H. Thomson’s “The World Remembers” are trying to remedy this issue, by projecting the names of all the individuals who fought in World War One in public spaces and on the internet, 100 years after their death.
This Remembrance Day, and throughout the year, please take a moment to learn and listen to all the stories of the individuals that have served or currently serve in the Armed Forces. Their sacrifices are the reason why Canada is a country where citizens have the freedoms and rights that allow them to live their lives as they wish, free from war.