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Remembering the Diversity of our Burdens

This past Friday, I attended a Remembrance Day assembly at the suburban school where I work. I entered the dimmed gymnasium from the back and took in the sea of middle school heads, steadied by a bag piper’s somber tribute. Names of fallen soldiers were read in succession - W. J. Parker, died 1942, Private L. Martin, died, 1918, W.D. Smith...

The stillness and respect shown by these preteens was beautiful, but something didn’t sit right. Over 300 bodies sat cross legged and silent. But it was a monochromatic field of diversity, many cultures and countries present but only a handful were representative of the names being remembered. This is Canada today in a greater Toronto suburb. We are a culture bursting with a new diversity and our cultural makeup changes constantly - even from 10 years ago in the same town. The idea that all nations are welcomed is something I love and want to celebrate about where I live. Some families travel to our town in pursuit of a new job, to join existing family and to experience a new adventure. But another group travels to escape burdens far beyond our first world understanding. They are escaping the wars of today. And this is where the assembly didn’t sit right for me.

The majority of the students in the room were grieving and remembering someone lost in a battle for freedom. But for them, it may not be the loss of a great grandparent in a war they learn about in history. For them it might be an uncle who fought against a rebel force, a parent lost in a stray gunshot, or a sibling who didn't survive the long year in a makeshift refugee camp. Their burdens come not only from memories of loss, but from their present realities of living in a fallen world. Remembrance Day in Canada is an important celebration of sacrifice and freedom, but it is also an important reminder of how fortunate we are to not only live in a time of relative peace, but in a country of peace. When we complain about the burdens of needing to work weekends, or having to walk to school everyday in snow and slush, or not having enough money to attend the holiday event of the year, I think we need to remember our day to day burdens are small in comparison. What if we were restricted from working due to war, had to carry a gallon of water for miles to survive the next week, or needed to choose between buying food or keeping the heat?

Let us not forget. But let us not be blind to the continuous burdens resting on not only families of soldiers lost but of all those affected by the wars still raging in the countries left behind in search of a moment of peace.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up, inspired by the word : Burden. (And my first attempt at a Blog Link-up!)EndFragment

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