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November 12, 2013

Rose Simpson: Remembrance Day or Black Monday?

"Country" by Jamie McCaffrey, from the OttawaStart Flickr Group.

Rose Simpson's column appears every Tuesday morning on the OttawaStart Blog. She also blogs at Rose's Cantina.

Last November 11th, after watching the ceremonies on Parliament Hill, Scott and I ventured over to Costco to pick up a few supplies. Normally, Scott would be selling Subarus instead of shopping, but Monday was his scheduled day off and a trip to the big box store is part of our routine.

When we peeled into the Costco parking lot, we couldn't believe our eyes. The parking lot was absolutely packed with so much overflow, shoppers were spilling over into the Brick parking lot.

Cart after cart came out filled to the brim with Christmas paper, wreaths, toys and electronics. Shoppers with glazed eyes were slurping ice cream and hoovering down hotdogs. It truly was a sight to behold.

For many in this government town, Remembrance Day is not a day to reflect upon the good deeds and tragedies of battles past and wars fought. Instead it has become a day off without the kids -- who are spending it hopefully in their classrooms or assembly rooms reflecting on the good deeds and tragedies of our soldiers. Perhaps the only nod to our heroes and heroines for these public servants is a poppy stabbing them in the hearts on their winter coats.

I was so unnerved about the commercialism I saw last year, that I have decided to make the case for making public servants work on Remembrance Day. Most people don't have the luxury of having Remembrance Day off. The only reason I do is that I'm self-employed. I'm not on the public payroll.

There is no need for them to shop at Costco when they could be answering calls from Veterans on government hotlines or providing needed services for the rest of us. Public servants should be made to work from 12:30 on, just like people like Scott who sell cars for a living.

(The exception, of course, would be military personnel because they can be trusted to treat Remembrance Day with the respect it deserves.)

What's the problem with making them go back to work after a morning of remembrance? Is it too difficult to schedule people to work half a day? Perhaps they could work the whole day like a lot of other people and take time out and go to a ceremony in the work place at 10:30 or gather round the big television in the boardroom and watch the ceremony.

Remembrance Day is not a holiday and it should not be treated like the American Black Friday.

Sure there are public servants who go to the War Memorial or gather at the local legion to raise a glass with veterans. But I bet their numbers wouldn't fill a hockey arena.

I wouldn't be half as mad about Black Monday if kids got the day off and these loafers could take them up to Parliament Hill or to visit the vets over at the Perley. But kids don't get Remembrance Day off, so why should public servants?

-- Rose Simpson

See also: Ottawa Remembrance Day Guide
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