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article imageOp-Ed: Canada has no national holiday for Remembrance Day — but should Special

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 10, 2012 in Politics
It may surprise Canadians, and other nationals, to learn that Canada does not have a National Remembrance Day. Most provinces in the country have a statutory holiday for the day but 3 do not and nationally there's no holiday.
Neither in Ontario or Quebec - Canada's most populous provinces - nor Manitoba is Remembrance Day a statutory holiday. There are employers who give the day off with pay in all 3 of those provinces, but they are not required by law to do so. In other provinces, they are.
Lisa MacLeod, an Ontario MPP, is one who tried to make November 11 a holiday in that province, she introduced a private members bill in Nov. of 2010 but it died on the order papers in 2011. As reported this week in the Sarnia Observer, Wilma McNeill has petitioned the Ontario government for 23 years to make the day a province wide holiday, and continues to do so. But in Ontario, in Quebec and Manitoba the governments aren't listening. Should the federal government step in and make it a national holiday?
Winston Churchill: Never Has So Much Been Owed
I believe yes and in making the argument I'll start here: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." Those words were spoken by Winston Churchill in a speech during the Battle of Britain in August of 1940, more than 70 years ago. They came to be not just about that battle but the whole of the Second World War and have now taken on a broader meaning, they are about war and the sacrifice of those who fight them.
Today, most countries who fought in the world wars honor their military on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time at which, in 1918, the Germans signed the Armistice and the First World War's bloodletting finally ended. November 11 at 11 a.m. now symbolizes the honoring of all war dead and of those who made it home, many with terrible wounds.
Some countries celebrate it under the name Remembrance Day while others have other names. In the U.S. it's a national holiday called Veterans Day. This year it comes upon us again in a climate where war continues to mar our world and up until 2011 in nine years of war in Afghanistan, 158 Canadian soldiers died. In more distant conflicts over 600,000 Canadian men fought in World War One, about 68,000, or more than 10 percent, were killed. In World War Two over 47,000 Canadian men and some 70 Canadian women died in service. Canadians also fought and died in Korea and Vietnam.
Remembrance Day: Remembering Fallen Comrades
Cpl. Charlie McNeill (no relation to Wilma McNeill) is a Canadian owed honour for his service. MacNeill served in World War Two and was in battles and shots were fired, guns used with intent to take his life. Many of those he served with did die. Cpl. McNeill is in his 90s now and said he has never gone back to Europe since returning home; he said he never will, it's still is too painful a memory.
“I lost a lot of friends over there and some of them are still there and I don’t ever wanna go back,” MacNeill told this reporter about his experience. “In the army you become a family and when one of them is missing it’s worse than pulling a tooth out.”
An experience most of us can't relate to, a personal history most do not have. Losing friends suddenly and being shot at, people falling all around you and you have the courage to go forward. Believing in something enough, in country, in a better world, that you keep running toward those who are trying to kill you. Is there not a debt owed to them?
On November 11, 2012 Canada will again honor her war heroes like Cpl. Charlie MacNeill and his fallen comrades, but how can she ensure she always will? How can any society ensure that a strong sense of gratitude remains alive? And is there a way to grow and nurture that gratitude? There is: with a national holiday on Remembrance Day.
For Canada it is long past time.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Remembrance day, day to honor veterans, remembrance day in canada, World war one, World War Two
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