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A sign on a shop window indicates a store is closed in Ottawa, Monday, March 23, 2020.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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I remember

Re Remembrance Day Is More Tangible As I Mourn My Uncle (First Person, Nov. 10): I noticed a banner was erected on a light pole near my home. It commemorated my brother, Corporal Glen Arnold. I was initially saddened by the memory of loss, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the gesture of the Township of Baldwin.

That show of compassion is not lost on our family. I proudly have “1 Cpl. Glen Arnold Ave.” on my driver’s licence. They also named our community recreation facility in Glen’s honour. And now they continue to erect his banner in November.

I think the only way we can thank the residents of Baldwin, and Canada for that matter, is to do the same for others we come across who need love and support. And be a good soldier: Mask up.

Dean Arnold McKerrow, Ont.

A Remembrance Day debt of gratitude extends to Canadian liberators from myself, a Dutch child, caught in the crossfire of the Second World War. Years of famine under German occupation drew to a close for me when a Canadian soldier gave a precious gift of chocolate and kind words.

Victory came at the ultimate cost; Canadian soldiers and other Allied personnel sacrificed their lives for our freedom, forfeiting their futures for our liberation. We immigrants honour that by sharing in building a Canadian stronghold for peace and prosperity.

Today I will mourn for all who sacrifice their lives for ours. I pray the country takes a moment to value those, past and present, who defend us. God bless all who work toward such peace. May it never be taken for granted.

Dirk Vanderkooi Edmonton

Re Remembrance Day Can Have A Painful Effect On Children From Military Families (Opinion, Nov. 7): For military families, death is an ever-present possibility, not a memory. However, by characterizing other students' reactions to commemorations as boredom, I believe contributor Ellen Clark does a disservice to committed teachers and engaged students.

Many take this opportunity to reflect on issues such as the dangers of militarism, the continuing wounds of PTSD and the sacrifices once made by young people such as themselves. I recently saw a school’s virtual commemoration that included all these themes. They were not “mandated displays of public grief,” but rather thoughtful reflections on the effects of war on communities and families, lessons that schoolchildren can indeed understand.

Perhaps if the virtual approach becomes established, students from military families may be permitted to excuse themselves, while others take time to reflect on the serious messages such events can teach.

Philippa Campsie Toronto

Re Whole Foods To Reverse Policy That Forbid Staff From Wearing Poppies (Nov. 7): As Canadians know, we are not a people who favour florid displays of patriotism. It seems too much like self-indulgence, I think, for most of us to feel comfortable with this.

While still serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, I remember on occasion walking along Wellington Street toward Parliament Hill in my uniform. Passersby would sometimes spontaneously, and quietly, stop me to say, “Thank you for your service,” then walk on.

These expressions of gratitude have remained with me. But as much as they affected me, I believe they were also important to the one expressing appreciation for what and whom I represented: All those who choose to put on the uniform as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country and fellow citizens.

This is the significance of wearing the poppy. It gives every Canadian the opportunity to express what those few citizens personally conveyed to me, and what we exchanged: that special declaration and receipt of gratitude. It is emblematic of the connections that bind us.

Alexandra Heber Lt.-Col. (ret’d); MD; chief of psychiatry, Veterans Affairs Canada; Ottawa

Problematic planning

Re Ontario’s New Pandemic Plan Is Built To Fail (Editorial, Nov. 10): I suspect that those businesses identified as “non-essential” are pretty essential to their owners and employees.

Ken Duff Vankleek Hill, Ont.

Re Fasten Your Pandemic Seat Belts (Nov. 9): Columnist André Picard draws attention to how Melbourne is now reaping the benefits of locking down until cases were down to literally zero each day. It is worth pointing out that Australia is the latest member of a group of countries, located mostly in the Asia-Pacific region, that have chosen this path.

Some have sustained zero community transmission for many months, even managing to contain outbreaks through aggressive testing, contact tracing and targeted quarantines. The diversity among these countries shows that success cannot be explained in terms of geography, population density, political systems and so on. Some are authoritarian, such as China and Vietnam; others are relatively democratic, including Taiwan and South Korea, or facing active pro-democracy protests, namely Thailand and Hong Kong; two are even settler colonies like Canada – Australia and New Zealand.

In all these countries, governments have been able to push back against those who argue that it’s necessary to find a balance between saving the economy and saving lives.

Peter Vandergeest Professor of geography, York Centre for Asian Research, York University; Toronto

Work the system

Re Postmortem (Letters, Nov. 9): As a dual citizen who grew up in the United States, I disagree with a letter-writer who concludes that “the likes of this President would not survive five minutes” in a parliamentary system – well, except in a majority government.

I have seen examples during my time in Canada, from both major parties, where a caucus supported a majority-holding prime minister in questionable situations.

The U.S. “checks and balances” system has worked well for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, it did not foresee an outlier like Donald Trump who does not accept norms, nor did it envision his following in Congress who want only to retain power.

A good system increases the probability of being well governed; too often, however, human greed can supersede the form.

Elizabeth Fernandes Toronto

The smell of our own

Re Up In Smoke (Letters, Nov. 9): I’ve provided advisory services to the Toronto condominium community for 45 years and have learned a thing or two. As draconian as this may sound to a letter-writer who wishes to smoke and fart at will, the vast majority of condo-dwellers in Toronto – and indeed in Ontario – don’t seem to feel that the imposition of house rules, for the benefit of the greater good, is oppressive.

So he’s better off in his single-level bungalow, smoking and farting away. And the combined olfactory senses in the condo community are protected. Everybody wins!

Alan Rosenberg A. R. Condominium Consulting, Toronto

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