Op-Ed: We need to remember what Remembrance Day really means

By: Riley Brooks

Last year around this time, I remember walking through campus in awe, not because of all the changing leaves, but rather the lack of one colour – red.

There is a generation that precedes us considered to be the greatest generation to ever exist. This generation of explicatory individuals, now grandparents, great grandparents, or passed on, are the men and women who volunteered their freedom, their childhoods, and for many, their lives, during World War I and World War II, so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today.

This year marks the 97th Remembrance Day—a day where at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we remember those men and women, taking a minute out of our busy lives to partake in a moment of silence in respect for our veterans. Many of us make this momentary sacrifice, as it is unequivocally small compared to the sacrifices our veterans made.

In the spirit of remembrance, it has become tradition that around this time of year, people wear a poppy. Pinning a poppy over our hearts is an acknowledgement of the freedoms we otherwise would not enjoy. For just a few days, we show our appreciation for our freedom of thought, speech and religion. We show our appreciation for democracy, security and independence. We acknowledge the trenches they walked through, the gunfire they hid from, and the bodies of their dead brethren they stepped over, by wearing a poppy.

Some of us are lucky enough to be related to a veteran, and are aware of how incredibly different our lives would be without them. Many, however, are not. But whether you have had the privilege of knowing a veteran or not, all of us collectively share one thing in common: we owe an inexplicable amount to those we’ll never be able to repay.

Last year I could not believe the lack of people wearing a poppy. There is no excuse for it. I am ashamed that our generation is too ignorant or too lazy to pick up a poppy. It is at worst a minor inconvenience. For 11 days, you pin a small red flower over your heart at no cost to you at all, or for a small donation to the Legion, should you choose.

The “sacrifice” we have to make to wear a poppy for 11 days of the year does not even meet the criteria of a sacrifice.

We need to re-evaluate and realize that, without these veterans, whatever you are doing right now would not be possible. And if you are one of the few in our generation who understands the importance of Remembrance Day, I challenge you to help others understand. This year, think about the men and women who would never know you, yet fought and died so that you could live the life you do. Think about the lengths they went to for you. This year, show some respect, and wear a poppy.

It is quite literally the least that you could do.

Pick up a poppy on campus at Laurentian today at any food service location.