It’s 11/11, NOT 9/11

This week (in fact yesterday) my children attended a school assembly themed around remembrance day. Here in Canada, as in the UK, Remembrance Day/Armistice Day is traditionally a day set aside to remember the fallen of the two world wars as well as all subsequent conflicts (Suez, Korea, Iraq, Afhghanistan etc.). Quite right too I say – I feel very grateful to all those who have given their lives, limbs and/or peace of mind in combat as part of defending the freedoms and way of life I currently enjoy. Those people placed themselves in harm’s way for millions whom they would never know, for causes they perceived to be greater than themselves. What they gave and what they were prepared to sacrifice deserves remembrance and honouring – it deserves our gratitude, our appreciation and above all our respect.

Remembrance day/Armistice Day does not glorify war, in fact the opposite is true. The occasion commemorates and reminds us of the horror of warfare, the reality of human savagery from which we are routinely shielded by Hollywood and TV. My grandfather died thirteen years after being gassed in WWI, one of my many uncles suffered a horrific head injury from an aircraft propeller, another lost his testicles to rifle fire – war is horror beyond most people’s comfort level or imagination.

Thank you, thank you a million times to those who gave, whether they returned home or not.

So imagine if you can, my reaction when my children returned home to tell me that their school assembly had focused not upon the senseless losses of open warfare, but instead commemorated 9/11 with a dramatized account of the event including some interpretive dance (flight attendants dancing if you can believe it). Quite what 9/11 has to do with Remembrance Day escaped me, and needless to say it also escaped my kids, who came home bemused and uncomfortable with what they had witnessed. It seems that the responsible teacher believed that 9/11 heralded ‘a new kind of war’  – presumably he or she felt that the use of the word ‘war’ therefore meant that 9/11 fitted the occasion.

Frankly I’m disgusted. There is simply no comparison of the two issues and attempting to do so is in my opinion insensitive, short-sighted and smacks of following a trend – in this case the trend of mourning over 9/11. That day is commemorated every year on its anniversary (and how – we are repeatedly exhorted and expected to share America’s almost obsessive grief) and again, rightly so – it was after all a horrific act of callous mass murder which should be remembered. It does NOT however compare in any way – materially, quantitavely or qualitatavely – with the events commemorated on Remembrance Day, and most definitely should not usurp our traditional act of remembering and honouring our veterans, alive or dead.

Who authorized this crass stupidity? Who gave the green light to such a ridiculously inappropriate idea? Why should our youngsters be brainwashed into jumping on that particular bandwagon? Why can we not honour whom the day is traditionally intended to honour instead of having a drama teacher’s personal preferences thrust upon the consciousness of our children? I mean really – students dressed as flight attendants performing interpretive dance – if it wasn’t offensive it would be embarrassing. Maybe next year a history teacher could take the lead and provide some perspective?

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