I have no connection to the military whatsoever, but Remembrance Day has always stood out as my favourite holiday.
My enthusiasm is born of the commitment and catharsis Remembrance Day represents. It’s only the day when the country says in one voice: “never again”, and grinds to a halt for a moment of solace. It’s the only day when you can publicly cry about the madness and unfairness of the world and be understood by a stranger.
The temporal context of Remembrance Day is changing; the last of the World War II veterans will find peace on the other side of the poppies soon. As this unavoidable reality approaches, what will it mean for Canadian culture to have the human memory of the Great Wars go extinct?
It means, like all things classic, Remembrance Day will undergo a millennial reboot.
Remembrance Day is typically approached as an account of history - the telling of a cautionary tale and unimaginable loss. We spend the day looking back, for now.
The millennial rewrite will challenge the retrospective character of Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day 2.0 will be an activist uptake of “never again”. We will look as deeply into our future as we do our past with the lens of remembrance.
Remembrance Day 2.0 will be a fusion of reminder and remembrance, where the love and consideration we look back with now become behaviours we carry with us everyday. It will be our holiday to remember great loss, but more importantly our holiday to meaningfully commit to peace and all the sacrifices and complexities that peace requires.
Lest we forget. Lest we desist.