Commentary – On lowering the flags

Jeff Burgar

Although Remembrance Day in Alberta is a provincial statutory holiday, this is not the case across Canada.
Most stat holidays in Canada and unlike many countries, are provincial, not federal. Further, there are only five national statutory holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day. The new National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is mandated for federal employees but is not a national holiday for all citizens.
It appears statutory holidays are intended for special days of respect, reverence and celebration. These days, of course, it seems every month has at least one stat holiday. Plus, there is constant pressure for even more. One relative tells us his union’s constant angling is for birthdays and wait for it – Valentine’s Day! – to be treated as a statutory holiday for its members.
But not Remembrance Day?
Interestingly, the Royal Canadian Legion itself is not in favour of another holiday.
From a website about holidays, we have this statement: “[Federal] Bill C-597 aimed to make Remembrance Day a national legal holiday. It received a third reading but did not become law. Even if the bill had passed it would be up to the provinces to decide what days are statutory holidays. It’s an often overlooked and little known fact that the Royal Canadian Legion does not endorse the bill out of concern that Canadians would not take time off to remember and would treat a day off as a holiday. They want the kids in school. So they can talk about it and learn about it. Not sit at home and know nothing about it. It’s about respecting the veterans and teaching about them. Not having a day off to do nothing.”
How about we continue this discussion with the lowering of our Canadian flag. Half-mast is appropriate on Remembrance Day.
Curiously, we are in a day and age in which flags are now dropped for a week or two. A local dignitary in a community passes? Local flags go down and are left down for more than a day. This is actually all according the policy of individual communities. Somebody decides who gets a lowered flag and who doesn’t.
Perhaps some day, when a local business closes, there will be a lowering. Or perhaps the community fire truck needs repairs. Or a local service club or church closes.
One would think, in such a world, the significance of flag lowering would soon become lost in a clutter of lowerings. It would seem lowering flags in perpetuity as was happening in places across Canada these past months might bring questions from tourists wondering why flags were fluttering at half mast.
Ordinary Canadians? Probably not so much after awhile, in line with Legion thinking. Overdoing a deed, turning it into a holiday or a constant, daily reminder, can indeed lessen memories, lessen impact, and lead to the exact opposite of what we hope to accomplish.
Food for thought.

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