A Simple Salute

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember. As a country, as a nation, we come together and reflect on the powerful sacrifice that our boys have given for us. We collectively stand and honour our ancestors who fought decades ago, and we pray for the ones who are in the midst of the battle at this very moment in time. We make sure that we wear our poppies and don't act too silly. Disrespect for our veterans on this day especially is frowned upon by the entire nation. Is there any other ceremony that is given so much respect as Remembrance or Veteran's Day? Even in the services at elementary schools, regardless of the boredom the 5-year-olds feel, there seems to be a hush that falls over us all, and we sit still and listen, no matter how we feel. It's part of being part of a collective identity. It's part of being a Canadian or American citizen. It's our privilege to repay the soldiers just a fraction of what they've paid.

Okay I'll admit it... at 11:00 today my moment of silence was more silent than most years, because I was asleep. *Facepalm.* And when I woke up at looked at the date and realized the crime I had committed, I felt pretty awful. But not too awful. Remembrance Day is all day long, after all. After eating some breakfast and watching some TV, I checked my Facebook. There were a couple posts about remembering our veterans and wearing poppies and being respectful, but there were more posts with funny videos, jokes, opinions, random photos, etc. Most people didn't seem to think that Remembrance Day etiquette applied to social media websites. Or maybe they just forgot. Yeah, they probably forgot. Then I went to Google something, and noticed that the Google homepage even has a little poppy at the bottom. Well done, Google. Very classy. I looked at a couple war-related images and propaganda, sang O Canada in my head, and felt a little more patriotic after that. Then I showered. The End.

I think it's pretty neat how on this day, at the same moment, people all around North America and the rest of the world are taking off their hats and paying homage to the lives that so many soldiers sacrificed for our Freedom. It's so noble. It's heroic. It's courageous. There's something very attractive about such loyalty and bravery. Even though most people are like me and have a lot to learn about true respect, and are maybe feeling pretty guilty of the lack of interest and attention, this is a day that is widely recognized and commemorated, and fortunately, has not been corrupted.

What I mean is, Remembrance Day was created for the soldiers. Since the first Remembrance Day in 1931, it has remained relatively untarnished by trends and and has not been taken advantage of by the market. In fact, unlike nearly every other holiday, November 11th has remained an internationally recognized day for remembering the fallen, and honouring the fighting soldiers. It has kept its symbol, the poppy, pure and simple for years. Fancy logos and clothing haven't taken away from the importance of this day. It still is the ceremony that it was first intended to be: A Day of Remembrance. Sure, individuals can skip the holiday, people can ignore it. But overall, as a nation, Canada has succeeded in preserving the dignity of this holiday.

The thing I've noticed that sets Remembrance Day apart from other holidays is this: No mascots. This day was created for the soldiers, and the soldiers remain the stars of the show. They are the heroes. Something else I've come to recognize: there are no selfish distractions. No gifts, no decoration competitions, no shopping sprees. 

Compare Remembrance Day with other famous holidays. Christmas. Although Christ is still in the name, the new hero is Santa Claus. The market makes a fortune from all the Christmas shopping, the cute clothes, the special deals, Boxing Day sales- it's all about the money. And when most people think of Christmas, their minds automatically snap to images of gifts under a tree, and a huge turkey dinner. Even for Christians, pop culture Christmas has become ingrained into our heads.

What about Easter? It's hard to keep the cross and empty grave as the logos when there's pastel-coloured bunnies hopping around and chocolate eggs everywhere you step. Instead of rejoicing in the gift of eternal life, the world rejoices in the abundant supply of sugar. People think of spring weather, cute little animals, and candy. How does that honour what Easter should really be about?

What I'm trying to get at is this. There are millions of people who have given up everything. Their homes, their families, and their very lives, with the hope of peace and freedom someday. That is what we call a sacrifice. And we remember it with silence and attention. We honour the dead and we shed tears for the wives and children left behind. It's a day that has been kept, more or less, completely focused on our veterans. Stores are closed, because the world recognizes that Remembrance Day is not about us. It's about the soldiers.

But there is one man who has given up more than anybody else ever has and ever will. He did not deserve death like every other human does. He was not drafted. He did not enlist out of guilt or pressure. In fact it did not even have to be His battle. He was not affected by the stench of sin- He could have stayed out of it. This is what makes His sacrifice infinitely more powerful. He didn't free one nation from poverty, He didn't save a single country from oppressors, He didn't fight or kill- He loved. He loved people who never had done a thing to deserve it. He loved people who never loved back. He loved people who He knew would kill Him. He loved the ones who He knew hated Him. He was not loyal to a nation, He was not a fanatic nationalist, He was just an insane lover. He was loyal to God, and God alone. And that fact right there is the reason that with His sacrifice, His lonely, neglected, dishonoured, disrespected, dirty, ugly, painful death... saved the WORLD.

God took on flesh. He gave up the perfection and glory He deserved, for people who deserved nothing but Hell. And now we replace Him with Santa Claus and selfishness on His birthday. And we replace Him with bunnies and eggs on His Resurrection Day.

Hebrews 10:10~
For God's will was for us to be made holy
by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
1 John 3:16~
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 
And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Today, remember our veterans. Wear a poppy, maybe. Learn your history and honour their sacrifice. Don't take anything for granted, because they bought you this freedom with their very lives. Respect their sacrifice.

But don't forget who bought your very soul and keeps it safe. Don't forget who gave you the power to defeat death and sin. Don't forget the one who bought your freedom with His life not only in this world, but in the eternal world, as well. Don't forget the One who gave you grace and paid the punishment of death that you were supposed to pay. Respect His sacrifice today, and forever. From now on, let's keep Christ as our main mascot in every season, on every holiday, and every moment.