A Canadian Perspective on Remembrance Day in Australia

By Michael Walecki

For the first time in my life, I have spent Remembrance day away from my home in Canada. After my first Remembrance Day experience here in Australia, I have come to the realisation that it was different in many ways.

Snap Shot of Michael Walecki on the Gold Coast

Michael Walecki on the Gold Coast

Firstly the fresh spring weather makes the atmosphere enjoyable and can lift everyone’s spirits while mid November in Canada can be quite cold since its almost the beginning of a frigid weather.

But honestly, who cares about the weather when the meaning of the day is much more important.

In Australia and Canada, the countries both remember their fallen soldiers and all veterans who have fought in all wars. Its a day to remember what our soldiers have done for us in the past, so that we might live a great life in the present, and continue to do so in the future. They fought for our people, for our country’s potential, and for our freedom.

The day after kids dress up like little ghosts and zombies on Halloween night, people pin poppies onto their shirt or jacket to remember our soldiers in Canada.

People begin to wear poppies almost two weeks before Remembrance Day to remind people of what event is to occur, and it gets our nation in a mindset to take the event seriously and to be prepared for the big day.

Hundreds of stores sell poppies and they are very easy to acquire, making it near impossible to forget that Remembrance Day is approaching. You can find them in our shopping malls, in large retailers like WalMart, and Canada’s favourite coffee shop; Tim Hortons.

Young boy scouts stand outside of major stores and shopping malls selling poppies only asking for a small donation and before Remembrance Day comes, and almost everyone has probably worn at least three different poppy’s because they just seem to get lost when you least expect it.

Living here on the Gold Coast, I feel like Remembrance Day didn’t even happen. I did not see anyone with a poppy on their shirt during the entire week and a half leading up to the event, I did not see any advertising of the event in the news or on billboards nor I did not see anything promoted at my university which is Griffith University.

I have been to two different shopping centers and not one store was selling poppies; retailers, cafes and restaurants, and the facilities did not provide me with a chance to purchase a poppy to remember our soldiers.

Working in a retail environment dozens upon dozens of visitors come into the store I work, and on Remembrance Day, I only saw four people with poppies pinned to their shirts that entire day. After asking those people where they got their poppies from, they responded telling me that they saved theirs from last year, and another told me they got theirs in Melbourne.

Also, at 12:00 o’clock one of my associates mentioned that we did not do the moment of silence for our soldiers. Customers and employees looked at each other and with a half-hearted glance and said, “Oh well”.

I do not know if this is a normal occurrence in Australia, or if it is just the citizens of the Gold Coast that are passive about Remembrance Day.

I was upset about the whole situation, especially when I looked at Facebook the next day. I saw posts of my friends going to memorials, posting pictures of their grandparents who were once soldiers, and having an overall awareness and respect for the soldiers that gave up their time, energy, and lives just so we can have better lives as Canadians and Australians.

Maybe it is time to reflect a little and think about what Remembrance Day really is. If you did not participate in Remembrance Day was it because you were not aware of it? Maybe you were a little busy. I am hope that Australians begin to put a larger emphasis on the importance of remembering our soldiers on Remembrance Day. These soldiers gave up their lives for us. The least we can do is pay our respect.