Friday, November 11, 2005

Wanted: A Superlative

Sometimes the English language fails us. It's evolving and changing all the time to accomodate this, but still I find there are gaps. When was the last time you were so sorry and all you could say was "sorry" because there's nothing else to say? I've had that problem more than once.

Today, I have no superlative for the word "proud." Marilyn and I went up to the National War Cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies. There were 25,000 people there! It was clear and a little windy and not just crisp but cold. There was a 20-gun salute, and a parade of veterans and other military marching, and we sang O Canada and God Save the Queen. We couldn't see what was going on at the Cenotaph because we were a little too East to see, but seeing the roads all blocked off and stuffed with people, and the hills around the Parliament Buildings packed was a wonderful sight.

I didn't cry as much this year as I'd done in years past. I think my happiness and pride expressed themselves more in smiling than silent weeping. Like last year, there were decorated old men and women everywhere around me, and I felt like a heel not shaking their hands, but I would be a blubbering mess if I'd done so. If the bagpipers played "Amazing Grace" I would have been wheeled out on a gurney.

I was surprised there was no flyover, as there was one last year in Hamilton.

We are so lucky.

Still, Ontario doesn't treat today as a national holiday. I overheard someone say it's the only province to not dedicate the day. This is gross and surprising. Ontario. Hm. Sometimes the proof's in the pudding.

I'm really glad I was able to go to the Remembrance Day ceremony in the nation's capital. It means a lot more to me than Canada Day. Canada Day is a party for the country, but Remembrance Day is a celebration of the country.


Holly said...

Ontario is land largely without history. This is both good and bad. In a way, the diversity in the way Canadians celebrate the day reflects the healthy diversity of our people.

I, too, feel a sense of pride and intense emotions on Remeberance Day, but there are also a lot of horrible things associated with the wars, particularly the Japanese and refugee internment camps, and that, combined with the fact that so many Canadians remeber their families as having died on the OTHER side of the conflicts, it's good that there is one place where it is not held as a high holiday.

By having it sacred in some places and not sacred in others, we recognize that it is problematic to celebrate war and its heroes.

I, for one, am overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude on Remeberance Day, because it was the RAF guys who liberated the Jews of Europe- without this I wouldn't be sitting here.

I think it is just another sign that the Maritimes, who lost more people per capita than any other region, has a different history, culture and future than Ontario. I used to get sick over the differences. Now I am happy for them.

What's the use of pretending that we as Maritimers are the same as the people here?

Let's think of Remeberance Day not just as a day to remember the wars, but as a day to celebrate the diversity of Canada and our right to hold vastly divergent views of history and nationhood.

Never Forget.

mel said...

yep. I slept through it again.

Holly said...

I think sleeping in is a great way to celebrate our freedom. Do you think we'd ever get to sleep in if the fascists had won?

Not a chance.

mel said...

haha I like it. I'm also consoled by the fact that while out the night before with friends, doing what made me so GD tired today, I ended up debating the merits of Remembrance Day with a friend who doesn't believe in it.