Remembrance Day PCP – Counterpoint

Kirsten Ehlers - 2A Biomedical
Posted on: November 14, 2019

Remembrance Day should not be a holiday. My peers in Alberta and New Brunswick will disagree with that statement. However, the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Manitoba, and the Canadian Legion all share the same opinion as me.

Firstly, consider the meaning of Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day is not a celebration; it is a solemn day of, for lack of a better word, remembrance. Holidays have a celebratory connotation. Victoria Day is the kick-off to summer. Many Canadians know who Queen Victoria was and the importance of her actions on Canadian history. But how many Canadians take the time to reflect on her actions on the holiday given her namesake. Labour day is the last hurrah of summer. Do you ever consider and remember the Toronto labour protest on Labour day? I didn’t even know it existed until I researched it for this article. In 1872, there was a printer strike that fought for a nine-hour workday. Before, they had to work 12 hours. This was a huge win for the labour movement in Ontario. That’s why we have a holiday for it.  Do you reflect on the hard work that average working people did so that we could have well-established labour laws today?  But what about the United States? Don’t they celebrate their veterans as part of a holiday every November 11th? That is true. In Canada, Remembrance Day isn’t a party. It isn’t a celebration of our victories. It is a day to reflect on the sacrifices of many Canadians to protect the freedoms that we enjoy today. The risk of losing the importance of Remembrance Day is too great. It is vital that Canadians reflect on the efforts of veterans. It is a day to observe and we don’t need a holiday to do this.

Thousands of Ontarians, be it at school, work, out on errands or at home, take a moment out of their day to pause and remember the sacrifices that Canadian soldiers have made for this country. The act of everyone taking a pause in their normal busy day is a powerful symbol. I recognize the difficulty for the average Canadian to attend their local ceremony, but I really want you, reader, to consider what you would actually do, if you were given the time off.

The average university student, particularly during this busy time of the semester, would probably not attend a ceremony. Would you wake up early to go to a ceremony across town? Would you take a morning off from your studying and homework? Would you treat it as a catch-up day? If you say no, that is amazing. It is unrealistic to assume that everybody shares those opinions.

Would the average person haul themselves to Toronto for the official Ontario ceremony on a non-work day? Who would commute downtown if they didn’t have to?

Another risk of making Remembrance Day a holiday is that Ontarians may, eventually, think of the day as just another day off work or school. Companies and schools do their part to ensure that employees and students recognize the holiday.

One of the strongest arguments for not making Remembrance Day a holiday is to keep children in schools. Remembrance Day is an opportunity for teachers and schools to educate students about what Remembrance Day means, the soldiers that fought for our country and the history that defines Canada. Some argue that schools can still teach it remembrance leading up to Remembrance Day. Still, there is an increased obligation of schools to teach children about Remembrance Day if the students are actually in school that day.

Why can’t parents educate their children about Remembrance Day on Remembrance Day? As I discussed above, how many parents do you think will take their child to a Remembrance Day ceremony? If the kids are in school, however, it is almost guaranteed that every child will have the opportunity to recognize Remembrance Day in some way.

Another rebuttal is that adults out of school represent a larger proportion of the population so Remembrance Day should be a holiday so that more adults can go to ceremonies. Still, adults are smart enough to learn about the day themselves. They can read a book about it. Adults know what Remembrance Day is because they were taught it in school. They can take the initiative to have a moment of silence at work. A child needs to have an adult explain what remembrance really means. It’s important to have that in the classroom.

One flaw in this school argument is that schools do recognize Remembrance Day on an alternative day if Remembrance Day falls on a weekend, as was the case last year. We cannot change the calendar and for that, I’m sorry. Still, when it is on a weekday, one cannot ignore the benefits of having the kids in school.

Other provinces have proven successful in having a holiday for Remembrance Day. Still, I strongly believe in keeping Remembrance Day not as a holiday.

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