Kids 'zoned out' on remembrance
Among hundreds of high school students invading the northeast food
court, only a handful of red poppies could be seen.
"It's because people don't like paying for them," said one Grade 10
If Remembrance Day's future isn't completely bleak, it's certainly
confused and disconnected. Sure, it was only a small snapshot of
Remembrance Day's relevance to youth, but it turned out to be an
amazingly consistent glimpse of what they believe and don't know.
These students, who just happened to attend Lester B. Pearson high
school, all understood the gist of the occasion, that we enjoy our
freedoms through the sacrifice of soldiers. And they say it shouldn't
be forgotten. But press them further and they don't know much about
what they've forgotten.
"Which war? Two, right?" said 15-year-old Tyson.
The words Vimy Ridge, Ortona, Dieppe, Kapyong, Medac Pocket,
even Passchendaele whose name is now celluloid currency draws a
total blank, a universal F.
"Vimy's in Ottawa, it's a place where people go and remember -- it's
a guy, I think," says Gina, 17.
Uttering Stalingrad provoked mention of a Russian czar, a revolution
and other zany detours.
"Bloody Sunday -- wasn't that involved?" says Nathan, mistaking
Northern Ireland's 1970s troubles with a Second World War turning point.
Says Sequora, 17: "I remember learning about Vimy but I can't remember
-- they do teach us but it just doesn't have as much of an impact."
In other words, they're just not that interested and increasingly distant
history doesn't resonate.
"We still do one minute of silence but I don't think it has as much of an
effect on us as it did on people before ... like the deceased," adds
Maybe 50% of her classmates "actually think about it, the rest are zoned
out," says Romeena, 16, who insists she's never "learned about Hitler
Some say they're aware of the Holocaust and 16-year-old Rhea recalled
what she'd been taught about the trenches, presumably those of the
First World War.
Jolene says she has military veterans in her family, but hasn't a clue what
they did or where.
Youths of south Asian or African backgrounds at the ethnically diverse
school are virtually identical to their European classmates in their responses
The Afghan deployment of Canadian soldiers not much older than them
adds no contemporary relevance to Remembrance Day for these teens.
If anything, at least among the youths with an inkling of the Second World
War and nation-gobbling Nazi aggression, the West's occupation of Afghanistan
disconnected from Nov. 11.
They seem startled to hear the two sharing the same breath. It's easy to
"They're not saying they're going to come invade our country," says Melat,
16, of Canada's Afghan foes.
Not a single one interviewed in the food court supports the mission, though
a couple of them think Canadian troops are also helping to pacify Iraq.
"I don't think it's our deal to be in Afghanistan, it's not our problem,"
Others say they believe Canadian troops in Afghanistan are being exploited
by the Americans -- hardly a Flanders Fields moment.
There's some awareness of Canada's peacekeeping heritage, which stands out
starkly in young minds from the more recent warmaking.
"I don't think our soldiers are making any peace -- they're dying," says Gina.
Regardless of the bravery of today's Canadian soldiers, we've come far from
one conventional army expelling another occupying one.
And the kids know it, even if they're hazy on the more distant history.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Kids Zoned Out on Remembrance
I found this on the Military Network, originally published by the Calgary Sun - it's a story about how kids these days know nothing of the sacrifice that our War Vets and current Soldiers have made, it's rather disgusting actually....