What does Remembrance Day mean to young people in Canada? The answer holds some surprises, according to a survey released today by the Rideau Institute.
Most Canadian “Millennials” between 18 and 30 years of age view Remembrance Day as a time to honour those who have served, and for us to be reminded of the need for peace. Few believe it to be a day to celebrate military achievements, according to a nation-wide survey conducted by Abacus Data for the Rideau Institute.
In the survey, young people were asked, “What does Remembrance Day mean to you?” and to rank three potential responses from most to least important. A strong majority ranked “honouring veterans and soldiers killed in wars” as their first choice (71%), while one in four (25%) said the “reminder of the need for peace” held the most important meaning for them. Only the remaining few (4%) ranked “celebrating Canada’s military achievements” as their top choice.
The meaning of Remembrance Day as a reminder for the need for peace was surprisingly strong. In addition to the one in four who ranked it first, a majority (52%) ranked it as their second choice.
Sobering was the number of young people over 18 who are unplugging from November 11. Fewer than half of the “Millennials” surveyed said they plan to attend or otherwise observe Remembrance Day (47%).
“For many young people, Remembrance Day may be too much about war and not enough about peace,” said Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute. “Remembrance Day organizers should embrace a peace message on November 11, and find ways to include it at cenotaph ceremonies across Canada.”