Personal thoughts on the importance of Remembrance Day

Remembering Remembrance days of my past, I look back and see a little Jenna sitting cross-legged and silent in the elementary school gym. A line up of 20 or so men and women would march in front of us, and a recording of Reveille was played on the school’s cassette player.

They carried their flags proudly and saluted with a crisp display of military perfection. I remember I was in awe of these men who stood before me; I was even related to a one of them. I would look up and see my great uncle Ray standing proudly among them and whisper to my friends even prouder, “I’m related to him.”

Looking back on my eight-year-old self, I recognize that I was proud that he was my uncle, but had I ever thanked him? To my recollection I had not.

As a child I understood only that he was in a war and had fought somewhere. I didn’t realize exactly what he had been through and what he and other veterans had done to be able to walk across that elementary gym floor in front of all of us kids.

A few years later he passed away and I recall going to his service. The next Remembrance Day service at my school he wasn’t there to walk across the gym floor. I was a child and I didn’t realize this was the last member of my bloodline whom had served in a war.

Looking back on this it saddens me.

As an adult with a conscious and quizzical mind, the realization of the opportunity that I had lost my chance to thank my family member for what he did was gone. Every Remembrance Day after my great uncle had passed an apathetic feeling was present in my mind. There was no personal connection to those standing before me, nor did I fully understand the hard ships these men and women faced.

As a teenager who cared little about anything, let alone the history of my family or thanking those who fought for my freedom these feelings of apathy grew.

It was until recently when I was looking through old family photos with my mother that my adult appreciation for Remembrance Day was sparked. We sat rifling through old photos and letters that my mother had collected over the years from our ancestors.

I came across a black and white photo of a man in an army uniform. My mother explained that this man was my great grandfather, or her father’s father, Herman ‘Brian’ Anderson.

As I looked at the photo, I noticed his nose first. This man that I had never met shared not only the same bloodline with me, but I had his nose as well.

It saddened me to know I had never been able to thank this man whom I shared so many facial features with and whom had fought for his country and his future great-grandchildren’s freedom.

It also saddens me that so many people disregard Remembrance Day, and spend more time and money worrying about what they are going to be wearing for Halloween.

With so few First and Second World War veterans left to attend schools Remembrance Day ceremonies, I worry that children will grow up to disregard the day as they will have no personal connection to relate the day to.

If parents and teachers don’t begin to educate children more on the history of their families and the soldiers come to pass whose suffering allowed them to be sitting in that classroom, we will be raising a generation who cares more about Halloween than they do Remembrance Day.

I can’t help but wonder who our children and their children will remember on this day and what the importance of this day will be to them.

jswan@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

Red Deer-based Home of Hope to host ‘Heroes’ Charity Gala

International charity has missions in several African nations

UPDATE: 18-year-old Rimbey teen dies in collision

A portion of Highway 53 west of Rimbey is down to one lane while crews investigate

WATCH: 2010 Olympic architect John Furlong inspires Red Deerians at Chamber event

Furlong suggests Red Deer should get involved with Calgary’s 2026 Olympic bid

Red Deer RCMP recent arrests include stolen vehicles, break and enters and drug charges

RCMP continue their focus on repeat offenders as part of the Pinpoint crime reduction strategy

Red Deer RCMP investigate armed convenience store robbery

Suspect fled on foot with undisclosed amount of cash and cigarettes

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon.

Wetaskiwin RCMP looking for missing youth

Police say 12-year-old Treston Minde left his residence on his bike Sept. 17 and hasn’t returned home

North Carolina gov pleads with storm evacuees to be patient

The death toll rose to at least 37 in three states Tuesday, with 27 fatalities in North Carolina.

North and South Korea say they plan to bid for 2032 Olympics

Moon and Kim announced a sweeping set of agreements including a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Russia’s reinstatement after doping scandal goes to a vote

The World Anti-Doping Agency is due to vote Thursday Sept. 20, 2018, on possible reinstatement of Russia.

Ontario wins stay on ruling that struck down council-cutting plan

The province had argued the stay was necessary to eliminate uncertainty surrounding the Oct. 22 vote, and the Court of Appeal agreed.

Most Read