Our Grandparents Risked Death and More Securing Our Future — We Just Have to Wear a Mask

Nov 10, 2020

Like many fellow Canadians, I have John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields memorized from years of school assemblies and presentations. The poem is such a beautiful and bleak tribute to those who sacrificed their lives fighting for our freedom. We are lucky to have the opportunities we have, because of those who served Canada through times of war.

As I have gotten older, it’s hard not to put into perspective what we are fighting for now.

If you're spending Remembrance Day indoors this year, check out some great activities for kids here.

On November 11, we take a moment of silence to pause, honour and remember those who were injured, those who died or never returned from the war. It’s also important for me to remember the women who sacrificed back home, and those who were nearly forgotten in our nation’s history. Like the men in the No. 2 Construction Battalion otherwise known as the Black Battalion, and also all the Indigenous Canadians who served. 

As Remembrance Day approaches and poppies are seen on so many people taking time to remember the past, I have been thinking about one of the memes I saw at the start of the pandemic: “Your grandparents were called to war. You’re being asked to sit on the couch.”

Putting everything into perspective

Since the start of COVID, I have been trying to put what I am still able to do into perspective. I think about the sacrifices we’ve been asked to make in this unprecedented time. Many of us can’t work the way we used to, routines have been upended and we can’t see family members, hug friends or shake hands with new parents at school.

Things right now are uneasy and overwhelming for everyone; having to physically distance yourself, constantly making sure your hands are clean, remembering not to touch your face and to wear a mask on every occasion. It’s unsettling because our normal way of life is now filled with restrictions, rules and irregularity. It’s exhausting, especially for those of us who are so used to being part of a community, being super social and striking up a conversation with acquaintances at the grocery store or coffee shop.

"I feel blessed that I can communicate with my husband because he’s at home and not on a battlefield somewhere."

Yet the requirements of what we have to do now pale in comparison to what some of our grandparents had to go through. These are generations who made it through two World Wars, The Depression, The Cold War and The Gulf War. They had to learn new trades, new ways to ration food and figure out ways to survive without the comforts of delivery or streaming services we are so lucky to have today.

Our grandparents were tough and resilient, the same way I feel our kids are now. My son knows he has to wear a mask at school in order to be there, so he just does it. He knows that there are vulnerable people out there who we are trying to protect and wearing a mask is the least we can do for each other.

So it’s hard to not feel upset when adults I know are fussing about the fact that they can’t go out for dinner, or they have to wait in line to get groceries. Or when they can’t be bothered to put their mask on when in a shared, closed space like an elevator, because it's buried in the bottom of their bag.

Natalie and her family have been diligently following the recommendations and guidelines since the beginning of COVID-19. But not everyone does. Read her POV here.

A reminder of the goal of peace

Remembrance Day reminds me of our quest for peace, and how in times of great hardship we were able to band together with a common goal in sight. It also reminds me how we should be learning from our history so that we won’t have to send more people to fight and die. 

As challenging as COVID is, it could definitely be worse. We don’t live in a war-torn country, or have to deal with intervention from outside forces. We don’t have our rights challenged day in and day out.

I feel blessed that I can communicate with my husband because he’s at home and not on a battlefield somewhere. I feel thankful that even though there are economic consequences for some people, I know where my next meal is coming from. And I feel grateful that I am able to sit inside my home and complain that I’ve watched every TV show and to be able to express that feeling to my friends.

Pandemic Privilege — do you have it? Read this call for compassion during uncertain times here.

In times like these, it’s important to show each other what we value most. There are so many things that are dividing us right now, from anti-maskers to climate change deniers to those who don’t realize racism is still out of control. Let’s demonstrate to our grandparents — those still with us or those in a better place — that we are ready to overcome what is dividing us in order to protect our families, neighbours and ourselves.

Lest we forget their efforts for our freedom, so that we can continue to live in a place where we feel free from fear, and united to stand with each other.

Article Author Vanessa Magic
Vanessa Magic

Vanessa Magic is a writer, award-winning costume designer and musician. She loves making up magical stories and singing songs to her adorable four-year-old son. When she is not in mama mode, she facilitates workshops with Inclusive Stylist Toronto, an initiative she co-founded that encourages inclusivity within the film industry for costume design and wardrobe styling. Currently, she is a participant in the BIPOC Film and TV Kids writing workshop where she is developing an afro-futurist science-based show.

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