Observing the Day of Remembrance

Memory plays a large part in who we are; Remembrance Day plays a large part in what our country is.

It’s no secret that we have short memories, and collectively, they’re even shorter. We’re reminded of this every time there’s an election.

It’s easier to remember something that happened to us personally rather than an event that included a community or a country. Or several countries.

We are influenced by what we remember. They play a large role in what we call experience. If we lose our memories, the sum of who we are is also lost.

Reinforcement is important in forming memories because it moves the memory relationship from short-lived categories to longer-lasting ones.

As we observe Remembrance Day again this year in Ashcroft, we will once again reinforce the shared and collective memories of our country and our veterans at war, the sacrifices and the lessons learned.

“In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognise how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945,” said Queen Elizabeth II.

Because the first two world wars occurred before many of us were born – or aware of world events around us – we need to work harder at remembering. And to make sure our children remember.

I am surprised that my family never attended a Remembrance Day service, given the fact that my paternal grandfather along with his brother and sister served in WWI. Possibly because Nov. 11 wasn’t a holiday when I was a child in Ontario.

I remember that in school, we would be asked to stand and be silent for a moment on Nov. 11 at 11 am. And once, my mother and I were in a shopping mall when its management announced that it was 11 am and asked everyone to observe a moment of silence. The bustle and noise in Windsor’s largest shopping mall ceased and everything went suddenly quiet.

For those who claim that Remembrance Day glorifies war, writer George Santayana, who once said “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” also reminded us: “We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible.”

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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