This past Tuesday, the Legion was invited to speak to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage about Bill C-311, An Act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day). Various bills have come to Parliament over the years on this matter and was once again recently presented as Bill C-311. We were asked to present our position on the bill.
The Legion’s position, as determined by our membership through the Dominion Convention resolution process, is that November 11th not be a legal or statutory holiday.
As part of our mandate, the Legion works to ensure Canadians never forget the service and sacrifice of Canada’s Veterans, and to provide opportunities to honour the Fallen through a number of programs, services and resources. Legion Branches organize commemorative ceremonies and activities throughout the year to honour our Veterans. The Legion supports schools in promoting Remembrance through our Teaching Guide and by organizing ceremonies for youth in schools and special events. Each year, over 100,000 Canadian schoolchildren participate in the Legion’s Poster and Literary Contests to learn about and honour the tradition of Remembrance. Legionnaires volunteer for the Legion’s Poppy Campaign, which sees millions of Canadians wearing a Poppy, the symbol of Remembrance, during the Remembrance period. And on November 11th, Legion Branches across the country and abroad conduct Remembrance Day ceremonies in their community for this most solemn and sacred of days.
Every day, the Legion inspires Canadians to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and to honour those who served and continue to serve today.
Remembrance Day is a day for all Canadians to remember the men and women who served and sacrificed for our country. It is a day we encourage every individual, young and old, to pause, to give thanks and to remember. The Legion recognizes that some would like to see Remembrance Day as a holiday, as it would allow working Canadians and school children to attend community Remembrance Day ceremonies. We also recognize that some feel by making the day a holiday, it creates national significance for the Fallen. While we appreciate that many would take this opportunity to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony to honour Canada’s Veterans, we do not feel that making the day a holiday will achieve the ultimate goal of perpetuating Remembrance.
Our priority is to ensure the deeds of the Fallen are never forgotten. Of greatest concern is that the day, if it were to become a holiday, will become to many like any other holiday. School children who would have participated in Remembrance Day assemblies or attended local ceremonies with their peers and observed the two minutes of silence may not have that opportunity if the day were a holiday. If Remembrance Day were a holiday, for many the two minutes of silence may get missed in the bustle of a day off. Over time, the holiday side of the day may overtake the meaning of the day, and the tradition of pausing in our daily routine to observe a moment of silence for Fallen Veterans may be lost.
By keeping Remembrance Day as a work day and a school day during the week, the circumstances are more conducive to promoting a moment of silence for Canada’s Fallen. On that day we see Poppies worn proudly in every corner of our lives to honour our Veterans. As the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month nears, we see workplaces and stores and classrooms prepare to pause. And at the stroke of eleven, Canadians across the country, including our youth, join millions of others, whether at a cenotaph, at work, in school or elsewhere, to collectively pause for two minutes of silence to honour, thank and remember our Fallen. There is nothing more poignant than an entire nation stopping at 11:00 to remember.
On November 11th, and every day, we encourage you to honour Canada’s Veterans and remember their service and sacrifice.
Lest we forget.