Tomorrow is November 11th, Remembrance Day. Most of us will never have to fight in a war, or see someone we love do it either, and I think it's good that we have to take a few minutes to remember those people who did.....what a miserable, awful, incredibly difficult thing it must have been. I'm very thankful that their service means that I will probably never have to.
There is always a Remembrance Day ceremony at school, no matter what kind of school you go to. I'm sure they have not changed much, they were always solemn and serious types of affairs, the urge to giggle didn't seem quite as overwhelming as at Mass. It was a bit bewilderingly sad and heavy to a bunch of kids; it was years before I figured out that we were not talking about a war that we were currently fighting, it was to remember ones we were all done with. They always handed out poppies for us to wear, which was a nice gesture, but a totally terrible idea....if you wanted 300 kids to sit quietly and reflect on the dignity of the situation, I suggest that you do NOT give them pins with which to stab each other, or little red felt flowers with which to fashion fake, clown lips.
We sang a few hymns, someone said a speech, a lucky couple of kids got to put the wreath on the cross (lucky because they got to move around when everyone else had to sit still) and the tallest girl in our class always, without fail, fainted. Every. Single. Year. And then we recited the poem "In Flanders Fields", which, I'm pretty sure, has to be memorized by every school child in Canada by law.
When Thing 1 was in Grade 1, I asked her about the Remembrance Day ceremony, and she told me it was "to remember the people who fought and died on the farm." Say what? The farm? "Yes" she said very seriously, "the people who fought and died on the farm", like I was both a moron and hard-of-hearing. It turns out she thought it had to to with farms because of the first line "In Flanders Field, the poppies grow..." I guess it makes as much sense as anything else when you're 6.
My favorite story about a Remembrance Day ceremony was told to me by one of my co-workers. She had 5 kids in her family, and as you can imagine, getting everyone out the door in the mornings was a bit of a challenge for her mother. My friend was in Grade 6, her older sister in Grade 8, and her two younger brothers in Grades 4 and 1. One Remembrance Day, which if you recall, is only 11 days after Halloween, her mother was getting everyone ready for school when the youngest one announced that he had to "dress up" for school today. Now, he was the kind of kid who wore his Halloween costume for a couple of weeks before Halloween, slept in it, and wore it afterwards until it disintegrated entirely. His mother, who had no idea what day it was, said "okay, go put on your costume then", and sent him off. The Grade 1's came into the gym last, when everyone else was already settled, and there was my friend's brother, marching into the gym for the Remembrance Day ceremony, dressed as Batman.
She said she nearly died, partly from embarrassment, but mostly because she wasn't allowed to laugh at a Remembrance Day ceremony. She says she and her sister still bring that up to her mother, who's only response is "but I was so tired".
Happy Rememberance Day.