Amidst talk of Canada losing its innocence after the recent attacks in on Parliament Hill, there has also been concern that Canada is becoming too much like America. After participating in combat in Afghanistan and joining the U.S. led coalition air-strikes on ISIS, Canada has firmly displayed its commitment to combat since the 1990’s, when peacekeeping was the primary focus of operations in the Canadian Armed Forces. Despite this “loss of innocence,” the Canadian Military has gained a more central place in the public consciousness and unlike the U.S., has maintained the integrity of its sacred day for Veterans.
Unlike Canada, the U.S Veterans Day has been colonized by consumer culture. A simple Google search on ‘Veterans Day sales’ yields countless hits on this “early black Friday.” A site called veteransday.co entices consumers with a brand-tapestry of sale-items. The CEO of Starbucks criticized the treatment of Veterans on this day. At an event for Veterans at The Washington Post, he stated that Veterans Day “has been turned into a weekend sale.” He adds: “We have to ask ourselves, what kind of nation are we? What kind of nation do we want to be?”
In Canada, this is not the case. We refuse not to allow the sacredness of this day from being overshadowed by market interests. This has been particularly evident in the backlash against Christmas decorations before Remembrance Day. Also, in 2010 a U.S retailer started a weeklong Remembrance Day sale that was met with protests from Veterans and civilians alike. Lastly, do a Google search using the phrase ‘remembrance day sale’ and you will be met with a very different result. Top hits include news about the record-breaking poppy sales and more talk about how a “US Retailer Advertises Tacky ‘Remembrance Day Sale’ For Canadian Affiliates.”
As a nation, we’ve maintained the integrity of our sacred day for Veterans. On this day, we remember the true meaning of ‘service’. In an age jam-packed with emphasis on ‘customer service,’ we reserve a space to reflect on the highest form of civil service.
Core principals of military service include duty, loyalty, integrity, and courage. In an age where the ‘call of duty’ has turned into a videogame, and ‘loyalty’ has been replaced by ‘brand loyalty’, we remember that ‘service’ means commitment to a larger moral/ collective cause, rather than what customer-service representatives do for the purpose of increasing corporate profits. We remember that loyalty is more than brand commitment.
We remember not for the sole purpose of just remembering – as some people go to church just for the sake of going. We remember because their sacrifices demonstrate an ideal model of ‘service’; a form of service we can’t live without; a form of service that binds us together like a group huddled for warmth amidst a blustery winter of market individualism.
On this day, the politics surrounding Canada’s combat engagements take a back-seat to the sacred ideal we’ve managed to preserve. On this day, we remember the sacrifices of those who have served in the military. In this way, we remember the true meaning of ‘service’.
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