Lest We Forget

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It is time Remembrance Day became a national statutory holiday.

For the last number of years, around this time, Barrhead Leader editorial staff have proposed that the federal government should make Nov. 11 a national statutory holiday. This year, we have decided to call upon our MP Arnold Viersen to help take up the cause.

While it is true Alberta recognizes Remembrance Day as a provincial statutory holiday as do the majority of other provinces, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, currently are the only provinces that don’t include our national day of remembrance as a statutory holiday. The only national statutory holidays are Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Canada Day and Labour Day. If these holidays are universally recognized by the entire nation, then certainly Remembrance Day should be as well.

Unfortunately, recent attempts at making Nov. 11 a national holiday have been unsuccessful. In 2014, former NDP MP for Scarborough Southwest, Dan Harris, introduced a private member’s bill (C-597), which looked like it had a chance of becoming law after receiving overwhelming support from all parties in the initial states, before stalling out during third reading.

From our understanding part of the reason why the bill stalled was due to opposition from some veterans groups who argue that by making Remembrance Day a holiday, schools would no longer hold Remembrance Day services.

We don’t believe that would be the case. A good example is our very own Barrhead area schools. Despite the fact that it is an Alberta statutory holiday, all the schools in our coverage area will be holding ceremonies. However, if this really is a concern, it is one that can be easily overcome by enshrining Remembrance Day ceremonies and the associated activities into the school curriculum. Do this and one of the biggest obstacles for the federal government making Remembrance Day a national holiday would finally be overcome.

Certainly, the men and women who have and continue to make tremendous sacrifices, and often the ultimate sacrifice, to protect the ideals of our nation deserve at least this much.

We also encourage all our residents to go take in one of our local Remembrance Day ceremonies — whether it is in Mayerthorpe, Barrhead or Fort Assiniboine. We also encourage local businesses to close for the very minimum, of half the day in respect of our veterans and to allow their employees to take in the various cermenonies.

As Lyle Saumer, a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran who served with the Princess Patricia Light Infantry including two peace keeping tours in Cyprus, told a Barrhead Elementary School Grade 5 class three years ago, every day should be Remembrance Day.

This is true, but they also deserve to have a true national day of remembrance.

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