At The Cenotaph.

We can only glimpse the Mounties past the ranks of air and sea cadets, Seaforth Highlanders in kilts, and row on row of uniforms I don’t recognize. We can hear the ceremony fine, though, and so I let my gaze wander as the Firefighters’ Band plays.

On top of the building beside me, a man is taking pictures with his cell phone. It must be windy up there. He’s all muffled up. In front of us, there’s a longhair with a Rage Against the Machine patch sewn on his coat. He’s with a rockabilly guy and a goth girl. Beside them, a man skin the colour of mocha takes off his hat for ‘O Canada’. A little blond brother and sister perch up on a high windowsill. They have a better view than I do. Beside me, somebody’s Chinese grandma looks solemnly ahead. All of us are there to honour, to respect the dead.

Remembrance Day is one of the few days each year when I really think about being Canadian. About the rights and freedoms I take for granted. Really, I should do this on Canada Day, but Remembrance Day is when it happens. So.

I am damn lucky to have been born when and where I was. I can vote for whom I want, wear what I want, worship where and whom I want, learn what I want, and marry whomever I want, male or female. I can have hospital care without having to sell everything I own. I can travel freely in the world. I can earn money in a job I love. All of these are, at least in part, due to my nationality.

So on Remembrance Day, I think of the fallen, the soldiers of the World Wars, my countrymen and women, who died so that people in other countries could live their lives in freedom. They died so strangers halfway around the world could have lives unencumbered by tyranny and terror.

I am proud of them, and I am proud of my country. Yes. I am Canadian.

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