Celebrating Remembrance Day & Veterans Day
Today marks Remembrance Day in Commonwealth countries around the world, Veterans Day in the U.S. (and Armistice Day in France). This is a day people all over the globe come together to remember those soldiers who fought, and died, for the freedoms many of us take for granted.
I am oh so grateful to all the men and women who fought for me to live in a country where my rights are protected, and it is important to honour them on this important day, but I also think today marks an opportunity to remember all those whom we have lost.
A Day of Remembrance
For me, Remembrance Day is an opportunity to honour all the friends and family who loved us and who we loved, as well as all those we did or did not know who fought for our rights and freedoms - be it in the armed forces or otherwise. Basically - its a time to reflect on all the people who have helped us become who we are today and help us live the fortunate lives we lead.
I do this as often as I can, not just on Remembrance Day, but there is something so potent in sitting in communion with so many others as we all take a minute to remember those who have passed, and today, 11/11 gives us this opportunity.
So, on this day, I urge you to remember all those who are no longer with us but have left a positive impact on your life. Friends and family, ancestors, neighbours, co-workers, veterans, civil rights activists, feminists, peace leaders, presidents/prime ministers, anyone and everyone who have helped make your life, and thus the world, better.
Honouring Those who Made a Difference
Remembering is honouring. And there are so many people I wish to remember who have made a difference in my life - all of whom I consider veterans for various reasons. First and foremost my momma, but also my uncle Carlton, godmother Janet, godfather Leon, grandmas Vera and Leone, and friends Jane and John. I keep their spirit alive by honouring all that they bestowed upon me.
I also want to remember all those who fought in the women's rights and civil rights movements, who helped me, a young, Black woman, enjoy the rights and freedoms I have today and set the groundwork for ongoing advancements. Folks like Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Frederik Douglass, Malcom X and Nellie McClung. As well as the lives that were taken much too soon and serve as symbols of the need for continued change. People such as Alton Sterling and Michael Brown, and the victims of the Holocaust, 9/11, the Paris Attacks and terrorism everywhere.
Today, I honour all those who gave their lives so that I can live mine, and all those who died so the world can wake the fuck up. In light of the recent US election and the increasing feelings of hatred and fear, it is imperative, now more than ever, that we remember. Lest we forget.
Tips for Remembering Those We've Lost
There are so many ways we can choose to remember those who have passed. Take a moment in silence at 11:11 (or whenever is best for you), play a song, light a candle, meditate or take a walk in the woods. Whatever and however you choose, just remember. Remembering can also be hard and bring up some painful shit. So be kind with yourself in this exercise.
Below is one of my favourite poems that helps us remember that even those who have left us too soon remain with us. We miss their physical presence, their hug, their words of encouragement, but, perhaps they never really left.
Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep
by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
How do you choose to remember on Remembrance Day? I'd love to know in the comments below. xo R
PS - If you're dealing with complicated feelings following the U.S. presidential election, peep my Huffington Post article How to Cope With Post-Election Grief.
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