As a newcomer to the Comox Valley I attended my first Remembrance Day ceremony here this morning. I was impressed by the large number of people who took time to pay their respects to our veterans. I particularly admire and thank young parents who brought toddlers and young children to the service to begin a tradition in their families and to initiate a dialogue with their children about what it means to be Canadian. There are, however, parts of the ceremony which I felt were out of place and which could be replaced with something more meaningful.
In my opinion the laying of wreaths should be done by representatives of the levels of government and the Silver Cross Mother who represents all families who have lost a soldier in military service. For businesses to lay wreaths diminishes the significance of this ceremonial gesture. This practice is not limited to the Comox Valley, but has crept into most ceremonies that I have attended in the last few years. Having businesses lay wreaths, even contributed with the most sincere intentions, comes across as thinly veiled advertising. Putting these businesses in the same lineup with the representative of mothers who lost their sons is inappropriate.
I also felt that the references in the service to three particular Canadians, cast the ceremony in a distorted light. It was, and still is, the courage of thousands of ordinary men and women, the sacrifice of those unnamed in the history books and the best sellers, that won the freedom and secured the peace.
My own two sons have served in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Central America in their military careers and have, thankfully, returned home alive. You can be sure that on this day, they are reflecting on the loss of friends and members of their own regiments who died while serving with them in these postings. Billy Bishop, John McCrae and Romeo Dallaire have all received their due on other days and in other ways. This is surely a day to remember and celebrate the otherwise unnamed men and women who gave their lives for our country.