Remembrance Day 2020 will be a special one, but not in a good way. In a pandemic we will not be gathering. We will be watching services that will necessarily be sparsely attended, with participants masked and socially distanced. As important as it is to remember those who fell in our defense in the past, we must also remember those who very recently fell in the pandemic.
Last year on Remembrance Day, I was teaching a class that began at 11. I began the class with my own act of remembrance, showing an online performance of my preferred Remembrance Day hymn, O God our Help in Ages past. (I posted on November 7, 2016 discussing the continued relevance and resonance of that hymn despite its Christian theology. Looking back on the date, it is obvious what I was trying to avoid thinking about).
In 2018 Remembrance Day fell on a Sunday, and I attended a crowded and multi-cultural observance at the Cenotaph in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall. Then, too, O God our Help in Ages past was sung, as well as Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom. The latter’s lyrics, as shown in a bilingual presentation by a school choir, perfectly fit the mood and message of this day. Let us hope we – or at least more of us – can gather together again on Remembrance Day next year.