In case I haven’t mentioned it yet here on the blog, I am a teacher by trade – a middle school English teacher, to be exact. Lots of factors go into why I don’t actually teach any more, but that hasn’t stopped my love of finding the “teachable moment” in every day life. This past weekend, I stumbled on one through a discussion I began having on my personal Facebook page.
What is Remembrance Day?
What significance does it hold for all Canadians?
And why does it feel like, with each passing generation, that significance becomes increasingly lost in translation?
Never have I ever met a “teachable moment” that I didn’t like. So, as a social experiment, here is what I will be doing for the next week: Each day, I will be publishing a Twitter essay focusing on keystone events for the Canadian military that end up shaping our country into the place in which we currently live. And I’m starting in 1660.
What, Whimsy? I hear you say. That’s crazy business! Nothing of merit happened way back then! Canada wasn’t even a country!
True, but here’s a fact: there were still Canadians living here. This land has been inhabited for a very long time, and though the political boundaries of what modern-day Canada looks like had yet to be drawn, there were still Canadians — Canadiens, to be exact. And with any organized society comes both a reason in which to defend itself, and a group of people willing to do so, therefore voila, the Canadien military.
Each day for the next week I will be using my Twitter essay to mark Canada’s military history up to and including present-day actions. Each day should also hopefully have some sort of a theme: Pre-Confederation, War of 1812, World War I, etc.
My hope is that, for the next week, Canadians will read 140 characters that very roughly outline a moment in our history and then use the Internet to learn, because we are a culturally disparate group of people and we always have been.
My hope is that these tweets catch the eye of the generation of social media students that only have enough concentration to read 140 characters. I hope I can educate them beyond their usual click-bait headline Twitter fodder.
My hope is that people will read these — Canadians, expats, foreigners, people — and realize that Remembrance Day isn’t just about standing quietly outside in the cold for a half hour. It’s not about recognizing the words of “In Flanders Fields” or the notes of “The Last Post” either. It’s not about what colour your poppy is (red, white, whatever), if it’s homemade or purchased from the Royal Canadian Legion, or if you even have one on. And it is certainly not about when it is appropriate to decorate for Christmas.
And finally, I hope above all other hopes that people remember to honour the importance of Remembrance Day for more than just those few minutes of silence. I fervently hope I can inspire people to remember for more than one day a year. We certainly did not become a country overnight, and though we are a relatively new one, we have a long, bloodied history leading us here. So many have fought for us — let’s fight to remember them.