Sometimes an unexpected moment gives you a visual that will last you a lifetime.
More than ten years ago while leading a grade eight class through the Ottawa area, a scene captured my full attention. In his youthful exuberance and innocent lack of awareness of its significance, a kindergarten aged child was taking great delight in jumping and climbing all over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in its prominent spot near parliament hill. My first response was one of shock at the seemingly brazen disrespect of the sanctity of the place. But how could he possibly understand where he was and what as beneath him? I could not see a parent in sight as I watched this young child trace the edges of the bronze helmet and sword atop the thick slab of cold granite. His eyes wandered up to the group of war-weary soldiers watching from high above on the monument. His boisterous activity immediately stopped as he stared intently at the figures. It was plainly clear that he was trying to figure out what this was all about.
The act of remembrance, deliberately choosing to tell the stories of sacrifice and the often hard won gift of peace, is so very important. We do so to recognize, honour, and thank those who have given of themselves in the past. We do so in order to remind ourselves of what we personally don’t experience daily. We do so because the next generation, like the young boy at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, won’t “just know” on their own what this is all about and why it matters.
With help from their teachers, our students will be offered the chance this week to step out of regular routines and the familiarity of their predictable, safe lives. When we pause during Remembrance Day for a moment of silence we meet the devastating extent of sin, the world’s need of a Saviour, and the hope of renewed creation where all wars will cease. I’m thankful our students were given this opportunity to say “I choose to remember.”