Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reflections on Remembrance Day and Kids

Over on PhD in Parenting there is a post entitled "More than 2 minutes of silence" about innovative ways to commemorate Remembrance Day with children. Below is the comment I submitted in response to this post:

I’m very conflicted about how to celebrate Remembrance Day with my kids. They have great-great uncles who fought in WWI; one of them was blinded in the trenches and came back to Canada to help found the CNIB. However, I feel that Remembrance Day has become politicized in ways that rub me the wrong way. For instance, instead of being about remembering the war dead, it’s often talked about in terms of men and women who gave their lives in the name of “freedom.” But many wars have nothing to do with freedom (WWI is arguably one of them, Afghanistan another), and everything to do with a political system that still believes it is OK to send men and women off to kill and be killed. We tell our children to use their words, yet our politicians continue to countenance the use of guns to resolve conflicts.

I guess I'm trying to say that, for me, what is lacking in Remembrance Day ceremonies is an emphasis on peace. So this November 11 I took the opportunity to tell my children about the interesting history of the white poppy, and how there are people who are trying to prevent it from being made available as an alternative—or a complement—to the red poppy. And how, ironically, these are the same people who talk about the value of fighting for “freedom.”


  1. Hi, NorthTO! Here in the US, we don't do the poppies thing. For us, Veterans' Day went by without a murmur, since my kids are at Quaker (pacifist) schools.

  2. great idea, pacifist studies don't make a dent in typical classroom education, except as footnotes in history. we actually had a case of a military recruiter coming in to talk to one local elementary school on our island recently under the guise of "career day."

  3. islamama--Yes, it's ironic that peace signs are still popular with kids (at least, they are among my daughters' tween set), yet no one ever talks to them about what peace means. What better time to discuss peace than on Remembrance/Veterans day? But somehow it's considered offensive or disrespectful to soldiers. As if it weren't offensive that they continue to die in wars.

    As for military recruiters in schools, I haven't seen that here, thankfully. If I did, I would have to make a very big stink!