Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day: Past, Present and Future

This year, Remembrance Day falls at the end of Veterans Week which is being recognized as the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War—1939 - 1945. Instead of revisiting all the battles of the Second World War, which has been covered by historians at length, we thought we’d take a look at how far our family life has evolved over the last 75 years and ponder what we can expect 75 years in the future. 

When soldiers were sent off to war in Europe in the early 1940s, the only form of communication they had with family at home was by writing letters that took weeks to arrive. A military family living through deployment today doesn’t have to wait quite as long with our current technology. We went from writing letters by hand to using the hand-held radio, then email, then we saw the invention of the mobile phone which lead to texting. Today many of us are spending our days connecting through Facetime, Google Meet or Zoom calls.

With the speedy advancement of technology, we have to ask ourselves what will communication be like in 75 years for our military families? Will we be talking to holograms of our loved ones while they are away? 

Entertainment has also quickly evolved. Not only for the soldiers in the theatre of war but for the military families at home. We’ve gone from watching films on reel-to-reel, to congregating around a colour television, used the Walkman and VHS player, listened to CDs and watched DVDs, and downloaded MP3s and MP4s. Today we use streaming services for music, television and films so that we can watch anything we want in the comfort of our homes. Add to that how much the size of our devices has decreased and become user friendly. I bet the soldiers on the frontlines in WWII couldn’t imagine we’d be watching a dramatization of Passchendaele on our Smartphone while riding the bus. Can you imagine what entertainment will be like 75 years from now? 

Not only has the cost of living changed over the last 75 years, so has the way we spend money. (Can you believe that in 1940 Eggs cost 33¢ per dozen and bread was 20¢ a loaf!) Today, Interact and credit cards have almost replaced cash, we don’t really interact with bank tellers, stockbrokers or travel agents anymore, and much of shopping is now available online thanks to retail giants like Amazon. You can even get your groceries delivered right to your house! As we become increasingly comfortable with virtual spending, how will we be spending money in the future? What will currency look and feel like? Will paper receipts and invoices become a thing of the past?

If we could sit down with the brave soldiers who fought against fascism and for our collective freedoms, one has to wonder if they feel that we’ve continued to make the social strides they’d hoped for. As a society, we have evolved with more rights for women in the workplace and more civil rights. In Canada, we gave Indigenous people the right to vote in the 1960s and gay and lesbian people the right to marry in 2005. For many years we have been a beacon of hope for refugees, most recently the disenfranchised from Syria. But our work is not done from a social justice standpoint just yet. Where will we be as Canadians 75 years from now and will we prouder to be the great North strong and free?

The people who lived during World War II have witnessed so much change in such a small amount of time. Our world moves so quickly. It’s difficult to imagine the advancements we will see as a society over the next 75 years, but we can know for sure that we will see much in terms of both innovation of technology and stewardship of our greatest values in military families and society at large.

While it's fun to imagine what lies ahead for all of us, we also must take a moment to remember those who fought for these freedoms. And, to thank them for giving us a world where we can talk to each other over Zoom, order pizza with our phones, and enjoy the daily rights and freedoms here in our country.