Canada first observed Remembrance Day on November 11th, 1919, to commemorate the armistice that had ended WWI one year earlier and to remember those in the military who had given their lives in the war.
The narrow focus on the military has become less legitimate—the majority of those who died in WWI were soldiers. In WWII, however, the great majority of the dead were civilians. Yet Remembrance Day still emphasizes the loss of soldiers. The red poppy should now, more than ever, symbolize also the civilian dead, the innocent victims of collateral damage, disease and starvation. Few, fortunately, have been Canadian but they nonetheless deserve a special place in our memories.
Indeed, in which wars exactly have Canadians' freedoms been at stake? The Second World War? Maybe, but doubtful. Certainly not the First World War. On that occasion, we fought for the British Empire, defending the British and the French from imperial Germany while imperial Britain and imperial France occupied and exploited much of Africa and Asia. The freedom of Canadians was irrelevant.
So by all means, on November 11th let us remember the dead warriors but let us remember also the victims of warriors. Wear a poppy for all, but particularly for the innocent. And let us remember to be honest about our great follies.