Reflections of a chilly Remembrance Day morning in Bluffton

I don’t know where you were or what you were doing last Tuesday morning, but here’s hoping you attended one of the many Remembrance Day ceremonies held in the area to commemorate the tremendous sacrifices made by Canadians throughout our history to preserve our freedom.

I don’t know where you were or what you were doing last Tuesday morning, but here’s hoping you attended one of the many Remembrance Day ceremonies held in the area to commemorate the tremendous sacrifices made by Canadians throughout our history to preserve our freedom.

One such gathering was held in Bluffton which also included the dual role of commemorating a refurbished park in honour of veterans, the early pioneers of this area as well as teachers who have been bestowed with passing the many stories of war sacrifices on to younger generations.

As it happens, the weather later in the day of this past November 11 turned out to be fabulous but that certainly wasn’t the case earlier that morning as near-frigid temperatures and gusting winds made it very difficult on all those in attendance, including the organizers and clergy, the public that braved the weather and especially for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, all of whom were wearing little more than their dress uniforms.

In a way, it was almost fitting that the weather was the way it was on that day as it may have made those who gathered to pay their respects think of what it must have been like to be standing ankle-deep in mud with soaking wet feet for days or weeks at a time as so many Canadians did more than 90 years ago in trenches throughout western Europe during the First World War.

Considering the ceremony in Bluffton lasted for just over a half an hour, many of those in attendance realized just how big of a sacrifice our glorious dead made all those years ago, especially when considering the weather was most likely the least of their worries.

Throw into the mix the constant stench of death all around them and the ever-present threat of being killed or grievously injured, and one soon realized that standing in the cold for half an hour or so paled in comparison to the misery they endured for so terribly long.

It’s a pity that many other Canadians don’t feel the same way.

Unfortunately for those in attendance in Bluffton, it was for the most part, nearly impossible to hear the honoured guests who made addresses to the gathering due to the constant roar of traffic, including dozens of semi-tractor trailers and at least triple that number in cars and small trucks, traveling at break-neck speeds along the adjacent Highway 20 throughout the entire ceremony.

Personally, I couldn’t help wondering where exactly all those people were going in such a hurry on such a sacred day as Remembrance Day. Most likely the cars and small trucks were off to spend the morning or the day shopping at a Wal-Mart or a Superstore or some similar place.

As for the semis and others, they must have felt the need to cash in on the misnomer of the Alberta Advantage, which as we all know, is nothing more than lip service for anyone in the mid to lower income brackets in this province. But the reality of it is that they probably had to work to earn the extra income to try to make ends meet for another month.

For others however, that simply isn’t the case and the irony of such actions is thick enough to cut with a knife.

If somehow our glorious dead could talk from beyond the grave, they’d probably tell us that they indeed died to preserve our freedoms such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and a multitude of others that permeate throughout our society right on down to the freedom to work or shop or sleep in or drink beer or gamble or a host of other things whenever and wherever we want, and that’s all fine and dandy.

But is it absolutely necessary for such activities to be done on Remembrance Day? Isn’t doing anything other than pausing for a few moments of thought and reflection, or attending ceremonies such as the one in Bluffton or, at the very least, watching the same from Ottawa or even documentaries featuring our war dead on the History channel, a bit like spitting on the graves of our fallen?

At least for a few hours on November 11, whether a person has faith in a higher power or not (yet another freedom we enjoy), becomes irrelevant. It goes without saying that in this modern era of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or trying to pay the bills on time, millions of Canadians are forced, or are willing to work on religious holidays like Good Friday, Easter Sunday or Christmas, but in terms of preserving our way of life and our freedoms, many would argue that Remembrance Day above all else, is or should be our most sacred day.

Of course, it would be absurd to think that legislating some sort of plan to shut the country down for a few hours on November 11 is actually possible and the same goes for Alberta. Again, in this modern era of chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of everything else, it is simply impossible when one considers things like international and domestic travel schedules among a plethora of other factors.

Nobody is suggesting forcing people to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies or to even watch them on television, but one possible solution that doesn’t involve any form of legislation and gives the public a small say in what goes on, is to simply refuse to buy anything on November 11, at least until after 12:00 noon.

It goes without saying that most small business owners and their employees have no alternative but to remain open, especially when the worldwide economy is currently in such a tailspin.

But be it ever so limited, the public actually has the ability to alter the situation simply by doing nothing at all, and that means no running to the store on the morning of November 11 to buy milk or cigarettes and no running off to some bigger centre to do some pre-Christmas shopping, or anything else for that matter.

In light of the tremendous sacrifices made by Canada’s brave men and women on battlefields throughout the world, doing nothing at all is much more respectful than sullying their memory and the price they paid for our freedom by taking advantage of what should be one of our most sacred days.