Every year, we put on a poppy, read a few feel-good stories about the surviving Second World War veterans, and maybe observe a moment of silence on the 11th. But the last notes of Reveille have barely faded before carols are playing. Veterans' news stories disappear almost immediately and are replaced with tales of holiday consumer-orgies.
I'm not the only one to have noticed this. Dave Murphy also noticed: "As soon as Halloween is done the Christmas displays are up in all the stores, some even began playing Christmas music this year before Remembrance Day," said the founder of ThankASoldier.net. "They received numerous complaints and stopped but the media reported as people complained it was just 'Too Soon.'"
On the Thank a Soldier blog, Murphy wrote, "What happens from November 12 to November 10? Most people go back to their normal lives and don't think about our Veterans again until the week leading up to Remembrance Day." This conclusion led to the launch of a new campaign called A Call to Action. Thank A Soldier is calling on its 75,000+ members to not only remember veterans but to act to help them. Murphy is calling on citizens of Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and Australia to contact their government officials and demand better support for veterans.
He is also calling on people to support two other Canadian organizations. Veterans Emergency Transition Services (V.E.T.S.) and Military Minds. V.E.T.S. is devoted to helping homeless and distressed veterans. Military Minds works to increase awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and support veterans who suffer from it.
Veterans Among Us takes a different approach. Our Duty recognized that many veterans don't talk about their service; some only come out on Remembrance Day. One in 35 Canadians are veterans, yet civilians may not even know their friends and co-workers have served. Veterans Among Us tries to bridge the gap by calling on veterans to wear their medals or insignia on the 1st and 30th of November.
Two days, chosen deliberately to try and stave-off the holiday steam-roller. Because a long-weekend in November is not enough time to hear the issues faced by veterans, nevermind comprehending them. Here's just a sample of recent news items:
Did you know that in the past month there has been a new class-action suit filed by veterans against the government? Did you know that government is still dragging its heels on settling another one? Did you know that the RCMP veterans are also suing? Did you know that reservists get far less compensation when injured on active-duty?
Did you learn that Veterans Affairs breached the privacy of an advocate and his brother, at the same time? That a member of the appeal board had his file shared amongst his co-workers and the information used to bully him? That he was dropped from the Veterans Review and Appeal Board because of the scandal? That an investigation into the privacy breach of Sean Bruyea by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman was ordered halted by the Minister?
Did you learn that we are not paying to bury our veterans with honour? Did you hear the cries for help from Sunnybrook? Did you know we have food banks dedicated exclusively to veterans? Did you know we have veterans living on the street? Did you see that some people don't recognize Canada's most important monument -- the Vimy Memorial -- from the back of the new $20 bill?
Have you seen the veteran protesters?
Or was all that hidden by the standard war movie and stock footage of one man's reminisces of storming Juno Beach? Are all those stories now buried under Black Friday and Cyber Monday and shopping frenzy and the Christmas Rush? Is your poppy covered up by the holiday card you got on the 12th?
Over the next month, while you are wishing for peace on earth, take some time and think about all those who have kept and defended our peace. They suffered for their service. They are suffering still.
We should not be so quick to forget them.