November 11, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 40  

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Do we still remember?

Are we starting to forget what Remembrance Day is all about?

It seems fewer and fewer people across campus are wearing poppies. Those that are seem to be disconnected from the symbol's meaning and what they are supposed to be remembering. Some businesses that used to welcome poppy sales with open arms no longer do and have had to be instructed to permit sales by their executives. Why?

Most people associate the poppy with Remembrance Day but are unaware of its significance. Following the continuous shelling of Europe during World War I, poppy seeds that had laid dormant were brought to the surface. When the poppies bloomed, their bright red colour made it seem as if the blood of the soldiers had created them.

Poppies thus became symbolic of the blood spilled at Flander's Fields and elsewhere. Despite their highly symbolic nature, more people are familiar with poppies as part of John McRae's poem about Flander's Fields -popularized, of course, during a "Part of our Heritage" commercial.

When we were younger, teachers handed out poppies from manila envelopes to every student. As young children, we may not have understood the poppy's significance, but we wore it nonetheless. It is an odd twist, then, that now that we are old enough to fully comprehend the sacrifices of our veterans, we take a more lackadaisical attitude towards the day.

To be fair, not wearing a poppy should not be tantamount to not caring about Remembrance Day. It's true many people, especially students, lead extremely busy lives and may have simply forgotten to thank a veteran, buy a poppy or otherwise show their support for the day.

The decline of Nov. 11 in the collective consciousness could also be attributed to the fact fewer veterans of the two World Wars have survived to promote remembrance. If that is the case, perhaps we should endeavour to recognize that Remembrance Day honours all of those who have fought and died to preserve the freedoms we otherwise take for granted.

Meanwhile, many anti-violence activists take the opportunity to use Remembrance Day as a springboard for protests against violence and against war. While some might believe such a display as distasteful, it seems likely many veterans would take heart in the fact people are using the rights they fought and died for to further their own beliefs in a free and democratic society.

But what about the supposed decline of Remembrance Day among those in our generation?

We're all adults now. We shouldn't have to be prodded. Whatever your reasons might be, whoever you might be remembering, take a moment of silence today. Pay your respects to those who laid the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of freedom so we can enjoy the world we live in today.



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