Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices of people in all armed conflicts. Every year, we are asked to take a few short minutes out of our day to remember the sacrifices made for our freedom and safety. Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the few provinces who have made the day a statutory holiday. As they should.
As all provinces should.
It is a disgraceful fact that Ontario does not currently recognize Remembrance Day as a holiday. God forbid anything get in the way of the almighty dollar.
In Newfoundland, it is different. We still remember and honor those who fought. For us, Remembrance Day is far more than a 2 minute break in the middle of your working day.
We remember the stories of the “Fighting Newfoundlanders”, The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, "The Blue Puttees" and those who continue to serve with the Canadian Armed Forces. We remember the battle at Beaumont Hamel, in fact we still honor the Danger Tree- a tree half-way across No Man's Land. It marks the most forward position Newfoundlanders reached before they were shot down. We remember the merchant mariners, while not part of the armed forces, faced constant threat from enemy submarines, destroyers and aircraft. Some were killed at sea; still others captured and kept as prisoners of war.
I remember the stories I learned in school of bravery and ingenuity displayed by Newfoundlanders who fought in the Great War. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment received 280 decorations. Names like Tommy Ricketts, a Newfoundland awarded the Victoria Cross and Lieutenant Cyril Gardner, the only allied serviceman to receive the German Iron Cross. He captured an entire German Patrol and then stopped a British Officer who wanted to shoot the unarmed German prisoners. Mariner Edmund Wagg who after the oil tanker he worked on was attacked by an Italian submarine, rescued 18 of his shipmates before an Allied ship found them. Wagg received a commendation from the United States government for his efforts. We remember Newfoundland soldiers Justin Peter Jones, Cpl. Thomas James Hamilton and Pte. John Michael Roy Curwin, Cpl. Brian Pinksen, Sgt. Craig Paul Gillam, and Sgt. Craig Paul Gillam, killed serving in Afghanistan.
I remember my Poppy, Wilson Price, who served our country well and came home to build a life for his family.
I wish I was home this Remembrance day- because I would take my son to the Cenotaph and I would tell him about our troops. I would spend some time at the Legion and talk to the veterans there. Though their numbers are fewer now. I would go home and spend time with my family- thankful for the opportunity to raise my son in a country like Canada.
But I am not in Newfoundland, I am in Ontario. So I will be at work, like so many others this Remembrance Day. While I know I will take the two minutes asked of us to pay my respect, I wonder, just how many Ontarians out there in Cubical Land, or on a job site will do the same? I am not optimistic.
For all too many, this is just another day.