In Sweden there is no Remembrance Day holiday mainly due to the face that Sweden has officially been militarily neutral for almost 200 years. While much of the rest of Europe marked the 91st anniversary of the signing of the armistice in Compiègne ending World War I, Swedes went about their normal business (in fact Catherine visited Uppsala and then flew to Umeå for some meetings). In Canada we’re used to having a Cenotaph of some sort in just about every city or town, but I can’t recall seeing any war memorials in Sweden.
We both feel that Remembrance Day is the most meaningful Canadian holiday; one that should not be treated like a day to party because you have an extra day off from school or work. Although there were no events for us to attend, but we did spend some time to remember those who served and continue to serve our country. Catherine has a stronger family connection to the military than I do, but due to my line of work I do get to a decent amount of exposure to what the Canadian Forces are up to.
We were discussing yesterday some of the recently announced plans for the end of Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan in 2011. We agreed that it seems like the right thing to do; there needs to be a transition to the Afghanis providing their own security as at the end of the day the people will always be suspicious of Westerners patrolling their streets (and rightfully so). Hopefully the Canadians will stay to help rebuild the country on the peacekeeping/humanitarian side as that is where I believe our military’s experience and strength lies. In that way maybe we can help to address the root causes of terrorism none of which are solved with guns – poverty, hunger, and lack of education come to mind.