I wrote about Remembrance Day last year. Specifically, I wrote about the fact that I don’t believe that decorating for Christmas before Remembrance Day has anything to do with disrespecting veterans, or anyone currently serving in the military. The real problem is that we so easily gloss over the day. We forget. We don’t take the time to teach our children about why this day is so significant. I think that’s the real tragedy. Not a set of lights adorning a home. Not a happy wreath welcoming friends. The loss of memories and stories, and the loss of reverence.
We need to remember.
This year, as always, I will remember. I will be thankful for being Canadian.
I feel incredible pride as a Canadian, and as someone whose family makes a difference in the efforts to remember.
My father wrote this piece about Memorial Day in Newfoundland, and the significance of the forget-me-not flower.
“During WWI, on July 1st, 1916 at the battle of Beaumont Hamel in France, 733 of 801 men in the 1st Newfoundland Regiment were killed (and some were only wounded). These Newfoundlanders lost their lives within the period of one hour. It was a devastating blow to their families back home. (Prior to that, on July 1st, 1867 the Dominion of Canada was formed but it wasn’t until 1949 that Newfoundland and Labrador entered Confederation.)
After WWI the Forget-me-not flower was used as the symbol of Remembrance, in Newfoundland and Labrador but the poppy slowly displaced it on July 1st as well as November 11th.”
Since writing that post in 2012, my parents have worked endlessly, painstakingly making thousands of tiny forget-me-not lapel pins, worn in tandem with poppies to remember these soldiers who gave their lives before they were a part of Canada. This month, Downhome magazine featured an article about my mother and these beautiful pins. My mother, whose family moved away from Newfoundland when she was just 10, but who moved back to her beloved island to retire with my father. My mother, whose uncle Eric Francis Taylor was lost in WWI. I am so proud.
(There are a couple mistakes — one, my great uncle’s name was Eric Francis Taylor, not Eric Taylor Francis, and two, the printing seems to be off from one page to the next, and three, my parents’ home is, of course, not even remotely close to 300 years old (but the family has been in NL that long)… but you get the idea.)
She works so hard to create these. Blisters on her fingers, aches and pains from hunching over to make them. And my poor dad’s been recruited, too. But they don’t do it for the money (because I don’t even think there’s any real profit) — they do it because they want to remember. They want us all to remember.
It’s so easy to forget how lucky we are. It’s easy to neglect even two minutes of silence.
My grandmother always talked about the big brother she had lost in to the war. He’d always say, “A fine name, a lovely name, Eric Francis Taylor”, and we tell our kids the same story.
Traditions are important. Remembrance is important. However you do it, I encourage you to remember. Always.
*** I have had many emails regarding the availability of these Forget-me-not pins, and am happy to share with you the contact information to place orders. In 2013, letters were sent to different legion locations across Newfoundland about the availability of the pins, and now, many thousands have been sent out around the globe. If you would like to place an order, please contact: Florence at firstname.lastname@example.org ***