Remembrance Day holiday worth debating

Thursday is Remembrance Day.
It used to be a holiday in the district. Schools used to close down and businesses shut their doors.
That’s all changed. Stores chose to remain open, and one by one the full business community remained open.
That could change again if Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod has her way. She would replace the new Family Day holiday in February with a Remembrance Day holiday.
Her private member’s bill also would mandate all schools to hold a Remembrance Day service on the last day of classes before Nov. 11.
I hope the idea is debated. I believe we should find other ways to recognize our soldiers on more than a single day.
I also would hope that more would attend cenotaph services, but I am not optimistic.
Being at the cenotaph is sobering. Trying to understand the commitment that every generation of Canadians soldiers has chosen to make is difficult.
I would like to wish that we wouldn’t have to ask our soldiers to take up arms again to protect our freedoms, or to provide the hope of freedom to people in other countries around the world.
Afghanistan has been the bloodiest and most costly war that Canadians have participated in since the Korean conflict. This past February, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Korean War Museum in Seoul and the country pays homage to all the nations which fought in that three-year conflict.
Every Canadian who died is remembered. As I looked at the Canadian flag flying outside the museum, it told of the sacrifices Canadians made more than half-a-century ago and that the South Korean people have not forgot their deaths.
Some 152 Canadians have died in the Afghanistan conflict to date. This year, as Canadian soldiers have moved from the heart of the fight in the south, our nation has suffered fewer deaths and Afghanistan has been shoved to a back pages of newspapers and has disappeared from the nightly news cycle.
But soldiers from this district continue to serve in our military in that far-off country. And we need to acknowledge their sacrifice.
The deaths of soldiers make up but a few of the casualties. In Canada, we choose not to talk about all the other wounded soldiers who leave the battlefields of Afghanistan.
Their number is now more than 1,500. And they come home to wives, children, and families and our nation needing support.
Their contribution to the war and our freedoms is no less important than those who died. We, too, must honour and recognize their sacrifice and the sacrifice of loved ones who provide support to them.
Some will require support and assistance for a lifetime. Others will require support to begin new careers.
Whatever is their need, Canada cannot shirk its duties to our more than 700,000 veterans and the thousands who wear proudly the Canadian uniform.
Let’s not forget them on Nov. 11, either.

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