As writers, our stories are influenced to a large extent by the experiences, background and opportunities that life presents to each of us individually. The trials, the blessings, the love, the heartache, the success - each give us a varied and unique view of the world, that seeps into our stories and gives them flavor and variety.
And so it should.
I wanted to share with you today a tradition that has influenced my life and upbringing, and one that I hold very dear to my heart. Even as I write this, I'm not aware if this tradition exists outside my own country - whether in the USA or other nations around the world (if it does, please share! I'd love to learn more). It will be something I will have to read up more on this evening.
Growing up Canadian, October was all about Thanksgiving and Halloween, and December was for Christmas celebration. In November our focus was on the memory of wars fought and the hope for future peace. Each year, November 11th is a National Holiday known as 'Remembrance Day'. Schools and non-essential business close (though less and less each year I've noticed), and special ceremonies are held in each city and town around the country. Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Though I have never known war, and grew up very sheltered from the terrible consequences of violence, slavery and hate, I was taught and impressed upon to learn and show respect for those who gave their lives - both in life and death - in conflicts meant to further the cause of freedom. I remember attending those ceremonies each year, watching the veterans and their descendants lay wreaths at memorials, a red and black poppy over my heart. EAch of these symbols, this annual tradition, and the teachings of my parents and grandparents built a sense of respect and love for all those men and women who fought (and still do) for my freedom.
And now I pass the tradition on to my own children. Each year we watch the song A Pittance of Time on YouTube. We buy poppies and wear them proudly every November. We read 'In Flanders Field' and talk about the consequences, causes and history of war. We do this to show love and respect for the countless sacrifices of others, and to remember.
Remember what? Why peace is so important.
May we never forget.