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Wearing a poppy isn’t the only way to pay tribute

 Shaun Proulx

“We are the Dead. Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved. And now we lie in Flanders fields.”

— From the war poem In Flanders Fields written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

Since the end of the First World War, the war in which In Flanders Fields was written, Remembrance Day is observed by Commonwealth Nations like Canada to honour civilians and military personnel who lost their lives in armed conflicts, protecting the freedoms each of us is enjoying right now.

There are many ways in which you can offer your appreciation this year. Join the conversation using your social platforms and #CanadaRemembers. And when Canada does remember on Saturday, November 11 at 11 a.m. — actually do it. Nobody is so important or cool that a text or chinwag can’t be paused for sixty seconds. (P.S. That pause gives incredible benefits back: we free ourselves momentarily from the man-made chains of what we think we “had” to do; a pause is true peace; that pause is clarity of mind for one minute that most rarely gift themselves with; and, in recognizing a moment as holy, we are reminded that holiness is in all moments, if we choose.)

While some are almost militant about shaming people who aren’t wearing poppies (for a variety of reasons), I suggest you can still be patriotic without necessarily wearing one.

Talk to a homeless vet on the street all year round – not just on Nov. 11. Donate to the cause – and guess what? You don’t have to take the poppy if that’s not your thing. Lobby your politicians to treat vets better when it comes to health and benefits. Remembering our vets should be a daily habit, not just because it’s in fashion to wear a poppy or take a moment of silence.

As a young gay man living in a homophobic world, I know all too well the freedoms that were fought for me — even if many LGBTQ+ men and women had to be in the closet to serve for several wars.

I’d like to propose another way to honour those who lost for us. In this time of global strife, let’s use Remembrance Day as a springboard to remember on all days someone who enriched our lives.

It is the ultimate thank you, to spend the freedom that people died for in conscious daily gratitude towards even more people from whom we then benefitted. If you are drawing breath right now, there is an endless list of people you can remember and honour daily. We owe our soldiers AND civilians.

We will pause on Remembrance Day and feel the magnitude of what was given in war so we, future unknown generations, can lead inspiring lives; keeping the continuum and momentum of remembrance and thanks is not just easy but right.

I could fill months of daily remembrances with a name per day of a woman who has played an enormous role in shaping me. I could also thank countless LGBTQ+ people — before me and here still — every day, people without whom I’d be nothing without. Teachers and mentors — there’s another slew of remembrance to include that I wouldn’t have were it not for the sacrifice of soldiers. My parents, too, and just this week, I was at my doctor of 20+ years, I gave both him and his longstanding right-hand woman a thank you card each for their kind care. (I also thanked my doc for having really awesome hair over the years.) Friends come and go, but even the ones I am no longer a match for, I will thank and remember them.

Remembering is thinking. Thoughts have energy (measured in hertz by science). Thoughts of remembrance and appreciation inject enormous positive energy into the world. Try it now — think and remember and honour someone for a fun minute; I’ll wait.

Now, note how good you feel within. This is the positive energy we’d imbue into the world with a daily pause, reflection and thank you. It can be done upon waking, before sleep or a meal – this is how change is created.

It’s the very heartbeat of the “why” those who lost their lives in armed conflict did: in order that you and I could have the great luxury of living better than most, but also the joyful wisdom to value it so much that we never stop remembering and never stop thanking.

The Shaun Proulx Show airs on SiriusXM Canada Talks channel 167.

He is the publisher and Tweet me @ShaunProulx for your spiritual advice.