I have a story to share, and then a thought to be told.
Before this year, I knew Remembrance Day was important, but I never thought about how much. In October, our class created a performance to share at our school’s Remembrance Day ceremony as well as at the local Legion luncheon. It included the song “One Tin Soldier” and ended with us holding up letters that said “Peace begins on the playground.” While I was interested and engaged in what we were doing, I didn’t know that my learning was to take place after our performance.
Following our presentation to the Legion crowd, I looked down and saw the emotion of the audience and how much it meant to them. It was heartbreaking but also heartwarming. Our teacher set up that we were to talk to the audience about why Remembrance Day is so important to them. I was initially nervous, but I tried to keep perspective that this was important. We talked to veterans, wives, mothers, husbands, and other guests.
While other students talked to a variety of members, I was captivated by one. He told me of how he headed off to war and lost friends. He told us of his life after the war and how he came to be in Listowel. He shared so many details and I could see tears in his eyes. It broke my heart. Then, he praised us for our courage in presenting, and for offering a message. I could see that it meant so much to him. I realized how lucky I am that I have never had to go through war, and I learned how much this day mattered.
Like other movements, Remembrance Day needs to be expanded to a month-long event. There is too much to remember. There’s too much to learn. And there needs to be time for all people to engage. Like we always do, we need to remember that lives were lost. We need to honour them.
I am learning that our remembrance is also about our country’s freedom and opportunities we now have. We need more time to explore a wider view of the impact of fighting. Right now, there are survivors from various wars like Syria in our community. We need to learn more about their lives, and their courage. We need to honour them. Diversity could also be included in this.
We know about the Civil War and the fight for freedom of Black slaves. We know how Indigenous Peoples were mistreated, and even died, at Residential Schools. Including other conflicts and battles is needed to build education and respect to make Remembrance Day more inclusive. To effectively learn and grow as a society, we need time.
There are ways we can all engage in a Remembrance Month. A moment of silence is not enough. If Remembrance continued for a month, we all would learn more. At school, we would have more lessons and projects. In the news, there would be more news stories and we could learn more about other wars and connected stories. The radio or other media could take time to play the anthem or play songs of war and peace, just like Christmas music is played in December. Homes and businesses might decorate, the way we see Pride colours during the month of June.
Having a month of remembrance and learning will help shape society into a better community. As we all become more educated, we become more aware, and this will prevent us from repeating the past. At school, students will be more likely to be empathetic and peaceful. In workplaces and in society, employees will learn to get along more with one another, and embrace diversity. If we know more about how people have created the freedom we have today, citizens will respect the opportunities we have and not take them for granted.
Albert Einstein once said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” We, as a society, need to recognize those that have fought, for our freedom and theirs. However, we must also recognize the opportunities we now have, and our responsibility in making the world a better place.
Brynlee Binning is a student at North Perth Westfield Elementary School.