November 2002
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Remembrance Day: An Anachronism
By Mahmoud H, Grade 12, Fredericton High School, Fredericton, NB

Remembrance Day is when we pause from our hectic lives to remember those who fought for our freedom and safety. Canadians wear red poppies to remind themselves of the glorious heroes of past wars.

Although it is vital that we continue to remember those who lost their lives in battle, it is equally important that we celebrate the contributions to society that have been made by equally courageous civilians. The Canadian media portrays war as glorious. An understanding of the meaning of war is essential, but war is not to be confused with glamour. What we want to do is end the need for people to die to achieve recognition and respect.

People such as Terry Fox did great things to fight diseases. Ernie Coombs spent his whole life stimulating children's imagination, thereby keeping them off the streets. Mother Theresa helped dying beggars who were suffering neglect. These are just a few of the many fine people who gave us shining examples of courageous living. However, it is most probable that they will not be remembered fifty years from now.

This year Fredericton High School made an excellent decision by inviting Israel Unger to speak about the war. In his speech, Dr. Unger, a science professor from UNB, suggested to the students that the human suffering of the war was not limited to the front lines. People displayed tremendous courage simply because of the conditions of war. The holocaust victims had just as much endurance as the soldiers who got killed.

The fact is, that whether we are at war or not, simply the circumstances of any period of time can bring out the very best in human nature. We have heroes in peacetime as well as in war, and the Remembrance Day ceremonies neglect the true value of our everyday heroes. We need not focus solely on the conflicts of the past, because new heroes are born every minute. It is important to recognize and celebrate the tremendous contributions of civilians to social life, whether they be in politics, in medicine or in teaching.


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