Like the flick of a switch, Halloween is over and poppies are on every counter across Canada. Almost everyone drops a few coins in the bucket and pins on a poppy, in remembrance of our veterans. Sounds just like Canadians – the bunch of polite, caring, respectful people that we are, right? If only that were true. If only we could choose to live up to our reputation.
Poppies unfortunately aren’t the only thing popping up these days. In the media world, what I like to call Remembrance Day Shaming posts – memes, polls, comments and articles, are being spread like wildfire, telling stores and people alike that they should wait until November 12th to start decorating for Christmas. To do anything else is, disrespectful, and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.
And this is what we Canadians have turned Remembrance Day into – another online media debate over personal choices and opinions, each trying to prove who is right or wrong, who is the most respectful. Am I the only one who sees the hypocrisy in this?
Here’s my wild and crazy idea – maybe we could just stop all the shaming and finger pointing over who is doing it right or wrong. Maybe we could stop sharing judgemental posts and memes that accomplish absolutely nothing, and instead we could respect the fact that everyone remembers, supports, sorrows and grieves for our veterans in different ways.
Maybe we should respect people’s rights to celebrate a holiday season when they want and how they want. Perhaps we should try to understand that just because someone has decorations up, or are listening to carols, doesn’t mean they aren’t remembering the veterans who risked and gave their lives, to allow them that very freedom! Maybe we should stop and realize that turning a day of solemnity into a debate over right or wrong, is the disrespectful thing.
Maybe we should worry less about what others are doing and when they are doing it, and worry more about our own hearts. Maybe we should take a long and hard, honest look at whether we are truly concerned about respect for veterans, or are we just getting caught up in the latest online debate?
Do you actually remember our veterans the other 364 days of the year? Do you pray for our men and women serving overseas in July? Do you take the time to go visit our veterans in the nursing homes in March? Do you write soldiers overseas a letter in August? Do you lobby for better treatment of our veterans in January? Do you donate financially to their support in April? Do you stop at a memorial for a moment of reflection in September? Do you talk to your children throughout the year about the freedoms of our country, what they mean and why we have them?
Or do you just spend a few days a year sharing a couple of memes telling others how you think they should choose to show their respect?
The greatest way to show respect for our veterans is to show respect for each other, and to stop turning a day of solemnity into a debate over personal opinions. To truly be united in remembering the men and women who served, and continue to serve our great country, without pointing fingers over who is doing it right or wrong. Then, we will live up to our Canadian reputation.