Remembrance Day 2010

Photo by David Kawai:

When I was a kid, I’m not sure I truly understood the gravity of Remembrance Day.

I remember going to my small town’s cenotaph each year, singing In Flanders Fields with the school choir, writing poems and drawing pictures. I knew that I was always to call my Grandparents, there would be a poppy for my coat, a trumpet, and a moment of silence that for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on always left me feeling shaken.

Things are so much different now – especially because I live in Ottawa. In Canada’s Capital, we have one of the most moving Remembrance Day ceremonies that I (and I hear many) have ever witnessed.

Thousands of people lined the streets around the National War Memorial today, and what struck me the most were not the poppies, the trumpet, the 21 gun salute, jets overhead or the incredible two minutes of sweeping silence (I didn’t even hear a phone ring). It was this guy who stood beside me, while I waited for my dear friends at the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa to march past. For 10 minutes he clapped and he shouted ‘thank you’ to every single group.

I spoke to a few soldiers that afternoon, and one mentioned to me that he felt that the audience seemed really engaged in the ceremony this year. Maybe what’s going on in Afghanistan has communicated to a whole new generation what Remembrance Day represents, I don’t know.

One thing I can say for sure though, is that nothing compares to 11/11 in Ottawa. How did you spend this Remembrance Day this year?

Big thanks to David Kawaifor stopping by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and snapping this post’s photo. Also, take a minute to check out the Ottawa Citizen’s “Readers Remember” photo series.