Canadians are pretty good about observing Remembrance Day.
Last year, in a Historica Canada poll, 41 per cent said they would be attending a service. Almost 90 per cent said they thought it was important to honour veterans.
We wear the poppy, we visit the cenotaphs, we lay wreaths.
It’s a shame we don’t take it more to heart what it means.
Although we honour all of our service people, past and current, on Nov. 11, at this point, with the last Canadian First World War veteran having died more than decade ago, we are primarily celebrating the accomplishments of our Second World War veterans.
Academics may argue vehemently sometimes that the real impetus of the Second World War was a contest of competing imperialist interests, but for the average person, from the West at least, who fought in Europe 75 to 81 years ago, and for Canadians today, it was an ideological struggle between freedom and tyranny.
To break it down even more simply, it was a fight for democracy.
Two weeks ago British Columbians elected a new government. We accomplished this with barely half of registered voters. In Stikine it was even more lame with just 47 per cent of voters casting a ballot.
Even if you factor in COVID-19, that is abysmal and emblematic of a decades-long trend. From 1928 to 1979, voter turnout hovered around the 70 per cent mark. It spiked to almost 80 per cent in 1983, but has been in steady decline ever since.
It’s even worse when you consider not every person who is eligible to vote is registered.
We don’t want to try to speak for veterans, obviously, but it seems like one of the best ways we could honour them is to not take for granted that which they sacrificed so much for.
And if you don’t think it’s important to that generation, just look up the voter turnout by age group statistics.
Yes, you could make the argument that freedom includes the freedom to choose not to vote, but we think that’s a cop out.
Of course, it’s pretty easy to be cynical about politics, but it is certainly not going to change by staying home from the polls.