As we approach Remembrance Day I have to, once again, confront the very real fact that I don’t really get it. I know that might seem sacrilegious, “How can you not get Remembrance Day?” but I just don’t, not really, not in my gut.
On an intellectual level, sure, it makes sense. These are people who heard the call of their nation and were willing to stand up and risk their lives to answer that call. That’s something worth admiration. But I have a hard time really remembering any fallen other than as a completely abstract concept. I’d be willing to wager that I’m not the only one in that boat.
It’s been over 73 years since the end of the Second World War. None of my grandparents, who have now all passed, had any involvement in it, to say nothing of the First World War. The only connections I can draw to those soldiers are abstract. I may as well be remembering fallen Crusaders for all the meaning they have for me. And I’m sorry if this upsets some people, but I think this is something that we, as a society, need to acknowledge. History is a constantly receding target, and, at a certain point, exhortations to remember are little more than exhortations to pretense. Is that what we want?
How much of Remembrance Day, after all, are we continuing to revere and acknowledge not because we really feel any connection to it, but simply because “that’s just what you do.” When you put your poppy on, do you do it because you’re venerating the soldiers past, and the causes they fought for, or because that’s what polite people do? But then again, maybe the real reason doesn’t matter. Maybe lip service to remembrance is just as good, because it at least makes us acknowledge the reality of war in a nation that, protected by oceans and economics, has had little external threat to it for decades.
Deanna Roney examines this from a slightly different angle this week when she asks the question in her article of when is it rude to raise your Christmas lights? And our Feature article this week is the Fly on the Wall, where he looks at the idea of how Remembrance Day may be, in essence, an argument that war is inevitable (otherwise, why the need to remember).
Of course, countering my own thoughts, Wanda Waterman has written an article about a letter she received from a friend in Brazil, concerned about the results of the recent Brazilian Presidential Election. Reading the letter makes an eloquent case as to why Remembrance Day needs to remain an important event, even if we personally have no connection to the events then, we certainly need to be aware of the events of now.
Beyond remembrance, however, this issue also has some useful tips to help you get the most from your note-taking, a review of a blender that might be a useful purchase if you find you’re short on time and brainpower for meals (as most students seem to be) Plus, of course, advice, reviews, interviews, events, scholarships, and more! Enjoy the read!