During the recent election campaign, we heard leaders and candidates from every party give speech after speech about what made Canada and the people who call it home great. The steamy July and August days paled in comparison to the hot air that came from every campaign stop. But despite all the hyperbole and rhetoric and pandering, none of the leaders actually hit on what makes Canada great or on the time of year when Canada’s true strength can be seen.
Because during the tributes to its fallen soldiers and the somber moment of silence observed on Remembrance Day, you can see Canadians at their absolute finest.
Tens of thousands of people, men and women, young and old spread across different generations, students shepherded by their teachers and members of every creed and faith clog the streets in the chilly November air with little complaint. Polite applause is offered for the politicians and visiting dignitaries, but thunderous applause is reserved for the veterans as they parade past in quiet dignity. Voices join in singular praise and gratitude for the warriors who fought and fell and all eyes look to the heavens as jets race across the golden autumn sky in salute before thousands of voices proudly sing Canada’s anthem. And if you look close enough, you can see an entire nation’s heart beating as it stops to say thank-you to so many who paid so much so that we may live in one of the greatest nations on the planet. As you watch thousands of heads bowed in mournful reflection, you may begin to understand the secret beneath the precious marriage between November 11th and the Great White North, whose strength and freedom were purchased by those honoured on this sacred day.
Because its Remembrance Day that makes Canada great. On that one morning, during that one fleeting moment of silence, all our pettiness and trivial bickering is forgotten. On that day, at that exact moment, it doesn’t matter what colour your skin is or what deity you pray to, it doesn’t matter what language you speak or who you voted for or what hockey team you cheer for. On Remembrance Day, all the foolish barriers we erect between each other fade away and we are only Canadians. Proud, thankful Canadians.
And for that brief moment in time, on the 11th day of the 11th month, we are at our very best.