Every years, in early November I get angry at society at large but especially at good-willed but unfailingly ignorant politicians and the media and, especially, at the Royal Canadian Legion because they all want to transform a simple Act of Remembrance into a tribute to veterans. “It’s not about the bloody vets, you blithering bloody idiots,” I rant every November, “it’s about the tens of thousands of (mostly) young (mostly) men who were killed before they could even become veterans.” Veterans and kings organized Remembrance Day for one simple reason: to remember, solemnly, those who were left behind on “some corner of a foreign field” or who have no known grave at all ~ perhaps blown to bits, perhaps lost at sea.
But we want to “celebrate” veterans. Of course politicians do, veterans vote; of course the media does, they consume the media’s products; of course the Legion does, it’s all about veterans. So I understand why they all want to celebrate veterans … and so they should, just not on Remembrance Day.
Our American neighbours have two holidays, their Veterans’ Day coincides with our Remembrance Day; and they also have a Memorial Day, this weekend, and they celebrate both in typical American fashion. Now we already have Victoria Day in May (everywhere except in Quebec, but they get a May long-weekend too, because that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?) but, maybe we could make it a long-long (4 day) week-end, or maybe our Canadian Veterans’ Day should be in say, late April or early June or even in mid July to create another summer long weekend.
The point is that I’m not opposed to honouring veterans … in fact, I am one, I suppose, although it’s not how I self-identify. I just want to preserve Remembrance Day for its intended purpose.
Oh, and to our American friends:
Have a safe and thoughtful Memorial Day weekend.