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November 16, 2010

Why is Remembrance Day not a Holiday?

CANADA - National Post writer Matt Gurney says Remembrance Day should not be a National Holiday in Canada because... well, you read it:

"Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod has put forward a private member’s bill calling for Ontario to make Remembrance Day, November the 11th, a statutory holiday. More specifically, she would like the February holiday of “Family Day” dropped and replaced by the Nov. 11 date (swapping a holiday, rather than carving out a new one, would avoid the headache of inconveniencing businesses and disrupting school schedules, which must offer a certain number of class days per academic year). MacLeod’s heart is clearly in the right place, and every option to honour and support Canadian veterans is worth considering. But in this case, there are better ways to serve those who have served us all. Nov. 11 should not be made a holiday.

For all Canadians who enjoy the freedoms and safety secured for us by the sacrifice of over 100,000 lives and the suffering of millions more who served and lived, Remembrance Day is a rare opportunity for a united, collective thank you. At most work places and in all schools, at 11 a.m., work pauses and people can reflect. It provides an opportunity for organized displays, the reading of poems, the recounting of veterans’ tales of courage and pain, and most importantly, the solemn education of the youngest Canadians in the facts of war and how much our prosperous and free society has truly cost. For one day a year, for only a few minutes at a time, we take the steps needed to ensure that for at least one more year, the sacrifices made on our behalf will not be forgotten.

Making Nov. 11 a day off would not only make it harder for Canadians to share this time of contemplation and sobriety, but would also fundamentally change the meaning of the day. Even the best-intentioned Canadian, one fully mindful and respectful of the costs of war, would soon have to fight the urge to look forward to Remembrance Day. A day off with the kids, a chance to sleep in or take the dog for a long walk, are things rightly relished, and it would be wrong to deliberately associate Nov. 11 with relaxation and pleasure. If Remembrance Day were to become a holiday, it would virtually guarantee that millions of Ontarians would at some point in their lives think, “Wow, things have been rough at the office lately, but thank God Remembrance Day is coming up. I could really use the chance to relax!” Perhaps some would feel guilt at that passing thought, but before long, and particularly amidst the youngest Ontarians, such sentiments would become the meaning of Remembrance Day. Perhaps they’d know in the back of their minds that it had once meant more, but only in the abstract. The meaning of the day, something that we have maintained for 91 years, would be forever lost.

For those reasons, Ms. MacLeod should be thanked for her well-intentioned idea, which should then be voted down. Remembrance Day is a sad time for many Canadians, including a whole new generation of Afghan war veterans and the loved ones our fallen have left behind. Let’s never turn the day we set aside to honour their maximum efforts in the face of incredible horror and deprivation into a chance to relax amongst all the comforts of home.

National Post
mgurney@nationalpost.com"


Now it is our opinion that Matt Gurney is a moron and has it all backwards. He has it stuck in his head that "At most work places and in all schools, at 11 a.m., work pauses and people can reflect."

He is so wrong it isn't funny. I have NEVER, EVER had a pause during the workday on November 11th. And its a rare workplace that actually follows this routine. Does your workplace stop and pause on November 11th? Doubtful.

And even if you do stop for 30 seconds or a minute, most people probably don't even think about veterans or dead soldiers who gave their lives for Canada. They're too stressed from being at work in the first place.

Now schools, we can understand that. They have to stop and pause because Remembrance Day is practically part of the school curriculum.

Furthermore how will this hurt the education of young Canadians? The teachings of Remembrance Day will simply be moved to November 10th (or the Friday previous if Remembrance Day is on a Monday). Thus students end up getting a reminder about Remembrance Day for TWO days of the school week.

Matt Gurney simply hasn't thought all this through. It should be obvious to him, but he works for the National Post (a Conservative rag) so it really isn't a surprise when one of their writers is dumb as a brick.

The meaning of Remembrance Day would not be lost on Canada's youth and adults. It would be reinforced by allowing Canadians real time to reflect on the meaning of the day instead of just working through it and forgetting all about it.

See Also
Should Remembrance Day be a National Holiday?
Help make Remembrance Day a National Holiday!

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