Remembrance Day has always been very special to me. I like so many others have heard first hand stories from relatives who have had to experience loved ones going overseas to fight and a grandmother who struggled to escape war torn Europe. My family has always gone to Remembrance Day ceremonies or watched on TV and I always get choked up when I see the old veterans getting misty eyed as they think back to those horrible times and friends lost. I can't imagine what it must have been like. As we get further and further away from those times and we lose more and more veterans I thought that the younger generation wouldn't be able appreciate the sacrifices those men and women made and take thier freedom for granted.
Yesterday I was proved wrong. Our school had a Remembrance Day Assembly at 11:00 but before that I wanted to talk with my students about why Remembrance Day is so important. Very few if any had the same connection as they are too young to have grandfathers who served, but I was astonished by some of the comments they made about remembering those who gave their lives so we can live in freedom, about how scary it would have been to leave their families and go off to a foreign country to help, and about the nature of war itself. I talked to them about how a Remembrance Day ceremony is solemn and we walk quietly into the gym, don't talk or joke around, sit down, not to clap for presenters and so on, and they really understood. At the assembly itself I was so proud of our Grade 5's who put on an amazing, thought-provoking presentation. At the end they showed a slide show with a song called "A Pittance of Time" by an Atlantic recording artist named Terry Kelly. He was in a supermarket one Remembrance Day at 11:00 and the store manager announced over the loudspeaker that they would observe two minutes of silence. A man at the till became irate and demanding because he wanted to pay for his groceries and get out of there. He was with his young daughter and she pulled on his arm and said why it was important to have two minutes of silence, and he was overcome by emotion. If you don't think the children of today can appreciate what Remembrance Day is about, you should have seen the tears from kids from Kindergarten to Grade 5 at the end of that song (myself included, it was truly overwhelming).