The red poppy. The cenotaph. The wreaths. These are among the images associated with November 11. Recent years have added another, perhaps surprising, item to my list of Remembrance Day icons—the lint roller. For any member of the Canadian Armed Forces, the lint roller is an essential piece of equipment, and if your household includes a member of the Forces, you’ve probably seen it used on Remembrance Day.
After my son returned from Afghanistan, I travelled to Edmonton for a visit and was able to join him for Remembrance Day ceremonies. The morning of my wedding day involved considerable chaos, but it was nothing compared with that November 11 morning. I got up, showered, and dressed. My son had to sew, iron, polish, run around hunting various suddenly missing bits and pieces, and, finally, apply the lint roller to every square centimetre of his uniform (I’ve missed some steps in that list—there are a lot of steps). The lint roller must be wielded in such a manner that every bit of fluff, speck of dust, and hint of lint is removed. The uniform must be pristine. And after you’ve dressed, it’s useful to have a comrade, spouse, or—in a pinch—parent around to go over the hard-to-reach areas behind you. I did my best to ensure that the lint roller got everything there was to get. And when we arrived at the grounds of the Alberta Legislature, the lint roller came out again.
Last year, I travelled with my younger son and a friend to Ottawa for the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National Military Cemetery. My younger son is a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, and his friend was then a member of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, so I got to observe as two men struggled with their dress uniforms—one involving a kilt. We went through three lint rollers that morning (we have cats), and when we got out of the car in Ottawa, we spent another 20 minutes with yet another lint roller.
It’s not yet clear where I’ll be on November 11 this year, but you can be sure there will be lint rollers.
In all three of our country’s territories and in six provinces, Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec are the exceptions, and from the way I phrased that, you can probably tell that I think they shouldn’t be. Just over two-thirds of this country’s population lives in those four provinces. In June, the House of Commons passed legislation giving Remembrance Day the same legal status as Canada Day, but that doesn’t make it a holiday—that would have to happen at the provincial level. I think it should happen. Some have objected it would become just another day off—that people would simply sleep late. Well, Remembrance Day falls on a Saturday this year. Most people won’t have to skip work to attend a ceremony. Maybe more people will make the effort this year. They really should—lest we forget.