The annual Remembrance Day is growing like poppies.
The televised bodies being brought home from Afghanistan have made a difference. The military used to bury casualties where they fell.
The 20,000 Second World War veterans who die each year - 400 a week - have brought more focus to the day. In the 1990s, there were 400,000 veterans. In March, the Department of Veterans Affairs said there were 163,450. Now only 155,000 remain. Their average age is 86.
Former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson's powerful eulogy at the dedication of Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 2000 caught the nation's attention. As did the media coverage of the 50th anniversaries of D-Day and VE-Day in 1995 and, three years before that, of the controversy over the CBC television documentary The Valour and the Horror and its allegations of Canadian military brutality.
It all means that, since the early 1990s, Nov. 11 has blossomed. That represents an extraordinary cultural shift for Canadians, who only a few years ago displayed a marked inclination to ignore their armed forces, or see them solely as peacekeepers.
"There's a real fascination among young people about the war experience and, surprisingly to me, particularly the First World War," said Queen's University military historian Allan English. "I think what it is showing is a real kind of renaissance and interest in part of our history."
For years there was a one-minute commemorative silence at 11 a.m. - marking the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the guns fell silent in Europe in 1918 to end the First World War. Now there is a two-minute silence, formalized by a unanimous motion passed last week by members of the House of Commons asking Canadians at home, at work, in school, on the street, to pause to mark those who died for Canada.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has gone beyond a commemorative day for veterans and instituted a commemorative week.
The number of people attending the ceremony at Ottawa's National War Memorial in 1993 was 8,000. In 2003, it was 25,000. CBC's television audience for the ceremony in 1993 was 750,000. In 2003, it was two million. This year, with Prince Charles in attendance, it almost certainly will be greater.
The polling firm Ipsos Reid reported this week that 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they would attend a Remembrance Day ceremony today - up from 16 per cent last year.
"I'm astonished to find my 10-year-old granddaughter is singing Remembrance Day songs in school," said military historian Jack Granatstein, former head of the National War Museum.
Last night, the Prime Minister was a featured speaker at a Toronto gala in support of Canadian military families, titled True Patriot Love. Veterans Affairs has created a "How Will You Remember" site and a popular Canada Remembers Facebook fan page. Schools and universities are suddenly redoing faded, weatherworn memorials to students who died in war.
Why the interest in war and not in other parts of our history?
"Part of it is that war fascinates people. It's dramatic. It's violent. It's interesting things, tragic things, heroic things, and people like good stories and that's part of history - telling a good story," Prof. English said.
Senior Royal Canadian Legion official Robert Butt said: "For a while, probably during the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn't de rigueur to commemorate veterans because a lot of people looked at commemorating veterans and their sacrifice as a celebration of war.
"But I think a lot of that has changed. And as our vets grow older and people start to realize that pretty soon ...
"We've only got one First World War vet left. You know, people do grow older and they die every day. But the big change is that they're bringing bodies home. It's there on TV for everybody to see."
The old and the young, the veterans and the serving soldiers, they die every day.
As the coffins are flown out of Afghanistan draped in the Maple Leaf flag, Prof. English said, "it brings home the reality that maybe Canadians hadn't seen or experienced for some time."
It is also giving the Legion a long supply of Silver Cross mothers - when only a few years ago they'd all but run out.
And the two-minute silence? That was actually the original 1918 time of silence, but as interest in remembrance faded, Mr. Butt said, it was shortened to one minute. In 1999, the Legion pushed it back to two minutes.
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