Day 47 (of 185) on Remembrance Day
I recently heard some discussion about how Remembrance Day is becoming “just another stat holiday” (statuatory holiday where schools governments etc are closed). Made me a tad uncomfortable because for me, this isn’t just a big assembly, it is THE big assembly.
Pretty much every year since I started teaching, I’ve been “tasked” with coordinating this assembly (held in every school the school day before November 11th) and while I always offer it to other educators to take the lead in this area, it’s never a burden when it comes back to me.
I’ve cried at them. Tears are normal – I know many who tear up the moment that a bagpipe starts to be heard. There are some stories that are tough to share….especially connections to families in schools. There are some musical pieces that should bring a tear to our eyes (my recent favourite is the Ric-A-Dam-Doo:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ozsOV7s7fM by the spouses of the Princess Pats).
I’ve been very fortunate that for the past five years I have a veteran piper leading our entrance. This year we have a choir. And a performance by our grade 7/8 band. I’m thrilled that our local girl guides have become empowered to also take part (one at our school being supported by four girls from my previous school who are all in the same unit). For me a Remembrance Day Assembly at school needs to be a myriad of components – the classes that do Flanders Field (kindys/1s/2s this year) create decorations and enter the annual Legion contest http://www.legion.ca/youth/contests/ ) and this year a cadet grade 8 student who was able to bugle/trumpet last post, reveille and O Canada.
Because Remembrance Day is more than just wearing a poppy. It’s not even about “remembering” (though that’s important). It’s about active reflection – being mindful that there will be sad memories because of what we are thinking about. Being mindful that we can be hopeful that we continue to live in some of the most peaceful times in our history – even if it doesn’t always feel like it. That Canadians who have served in armed forces and peacekeeper missions – veterans who have made an impact on the world, and active service troops who continue to “add a little Canada” to the world.
Just another stat holiday? Better not be. My kindergarteners noted the words: Lest we Forget – and wondered: what does “Lest” mean. It’s not a common word (and I’m not going to the dictionary on this one) – so it must be uncommon for a reason….must be important…a pledge that we will do whatever we need to do to continue to share the reason for taking a day to remember the sacrifices Canadian soldiers have, and will continue to make on their own and with allies across the world.
Why? Because when men like Snuffy come to our school, it puts a personal face on what veterans of WWII and Korea look like. When Petty Officers take time during their personal time to come be present at our assemblies, it shows what Canadians are doing. Every day.
It’s why even though my family has gone through the school assembly, we will still be showing up on November 11th. To say thanks….and keep the remembering alive.
What my assembly “structure” looks like: