A day free of you - Shawn Loughlin editorial
You might think I’d get the week off from writing a column after writing two last week, but no. Here I am, back at it again. Biggest regret, just as a sidebar: not asking Dianne to flip one of my pictures so the two were looking at each other.
Moving right along, I have to say I was relieved to see minimal hijacking of this year’s Remembrance Day. This might sound like a weird sentence, but it happens all the time.
I’ve been doing this job long enough to have encountered many people who feel aggrieved in one way or another. And, whenever these conversations happen around late October or early November, the “victims” seem to almost involuntarily weave their problems into the greater concept of Remembrance Day.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Years ago, when the Green Energy Act in Ontario was relatively new and wind turbines were being erected throughout the countryside, some Huron East residents banded together to fight what they saw as an injustice. There were studies about adverse health effects and allegations of plummeting property values, as well as plain-old, run-of-the-mill NIMBYism (not in my backyard). And that’s all well and good. But, I will always remember at one fall meeting that someone worked to weave the issue into Remembrance Day. You know... something like, “those brave men and women fought and died for our freedom and their sacrifice is being squandered by [in this case] wind turbines.”
It’s a pretty insensitive (and frankly, self-centred) way of making the sacrifices of brave men and women in World Wars I and II, and the conflicts that have followed, all about you and whatever happens to be ruining your day.
But, it happens. It happens all the time. This year, I was ready for the wave of people clumsily working to equate Remembrance Day and the “True North, Strong and Free” with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. I’m sure it happened elsewhere, but, for the most part, our area was spared these kinds of forceful conflations.
Like most Canadians, I have always been a strong believer in the importance of Remembrance Day, especially once I moved to Huron County. When I lived in Pickering, I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know where the town’s cenotaph was located. But here, Remembrance Day ceremonies are usually attended by many of the residents and the names on the cenotaph are often names you can still find in the phone book today.
Nov. 11 is for them and for those who served and came back. As Keith Roulston noted in a recent column, it’s not just about those who didn’t come back. Remembrance Day is about those who volunteered their service and were never the same as a result. It’s not, and this likely goes without saying, about your minor inconvenience that day. It’s about something much, much bigger and more important.
Frankly, since the anti-vaccination crowd has been so quick to make comparisons to World War II and Nazi Germany, I’m a bit surprised it didn’t come up on Remembrance Day, but again, maybe I’m not part of the right Facebook groups or underground blogs.
So, long story short, I was happy to see everyone make Remembrance Day great again by leaving it just the way it was. True, there was physical distancing, masks and reduced capacities, but this year we were free to think of those who made the ultimate sacrifice without the cloud of today’s grievances hanging over what should be a day free of opinions, selfishness and political agendas.