This time of year, when the snow starts to fall and the thermometer dips, when the red poppies start to appear, is the time to reflect on how much we owe to our fore-bearers for their tremendous sacrifices. For a week or two we pin a plastic flower on our jacket and, tomorrow, spend a few minutes in silence or an hour at a Remembrance Day service. All of this is good, and important. Lest we forget is a noble sentiment, an important nod to our past and a reminder to keep the horror of war at bay.
But it’s not enough.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields. By far the most important line in John McRae’s famous poem, and perhaps the least appreciated and acted upon.
What is the torch? Of the many gifts that previous generations have blessed us with, from defending the world against genocide to laying down their lives for their countryman, I believe that democratic freedom, the ability for everyone to engage in building a free and civil society, is the greatest and longest lasting. I’m appalled when only 61% of eligible voters bother to take an hour out of their busy lives every 4 years to vote in the federal election. I’m even more appalled by the fact that only 33% of voters turned out for the last municipal election in Cochrane.
Lest we forget is important and noble. We need to be reminded of the sacrifices of our ancestors. That’s why I’ve got a poppy permanently pinned to the visor of my truck, and why November 11th, Remembrance Day, remains an important and sacred day for my family and I.
Lest we fail to act is a reminder for the other 364 days of the year.