What Remembrance Day can Teach Us About Gratitude in Canada

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Will you wear a poppy this year? What does wearing that flower mean to you as a Canadian?

This Remembrance Day will mark 99 years since World War I—The Great War—was ended when an armistice was signed between Germany and the Allies. It took place on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”, November 11th, 1918, and this is an opportunity to remember the great sacrifices that were made and to feel gratitude for how fortunate we are here in Canada.

Since that time, November 11th has been adopted as the day when many countries around the world remember those who fought and died in wars. Originally known as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day was formally recognized by Parliament in 1931. Although Remembrance Day is popularly associated with World Wars I and II, it is really a day when we honour veterans of every war that Canadians participated in and remember their sacrifices.

What Does Remembrance Day Mean to You?

Remembrance Day boils down to memory, respect, appreciation, and gratitude.

For most Canadians, the first memories of Remembrance Day are probably associated with Legion poster and poem contests in elementary school. This is a wonderful, interactive way to teach children what Remembrance Day really means. Even 50 years after elementary school, you would be hardpressed to find a Canadian-born adult that doesn’t recognize John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields.

As adults, buying a poppy from the Canadian Legion is one of the most visible ways that we can support and show our gratitude of veterans. This gratitude is in honour of those who fought in wars so that the rest of us will be safe. This is a time to remember the ones who fought for a peace that we enjoy today.

Gratitude is a practice that anyone who works in the field of mental health is familiar with; it’s something that you probably speak with your clients about regularly. Veterans, both the living and the deceased, have made huge sacrifices for all of us. This is an opportunity for all of us to notice and reflect on all of the things we’re thankful for here in Canada.

Our Veterans

As mental health providers, you know that not all wounds can be seen. It can be difficult for us to imagine what they have gone through. For many veterans, Remembrance Day can be extremely difficult. They might be reminded of friends that were lost, of battles that took a harsh toll, and scars both physical and mental. Approximately one fifth of soldiers and veterans suffer from major mental health conditions that stem directly from their service, such as PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts. This is yet another sacrifice our veterans have made for us. There are incredible stresses put on soldiers, both in and out of war. In return for their service, they deserve the care of mental health professionals who can address their problems and help them heal.

Gratitude for Peace

This Remembrance Day, allow yourself to feel gratitude for the peace and quality of life that we enjoy in Canada today. This is a time to appreciate those who have fought for us and remember the bravery and sacrifice that our freedom has cost. As we approach this Remembrance Day, let’s also remember that just because the war is over for veterans, their battle often continues. As a country, we must do whatever we can to help those veterans in need and provide the mental health support that will allow them to move on from their war and forward with their lives. It’s the absolute least they deserve. Lest we forget.

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