A week has passed since Canada’s annual Remembrance Day, a day dedicated to honour those who fought for our country and remember the tragic events of past wars. It is my belief that it is our responsibility to not just remember our veterans one day of the year, but to recognize the freedom we enjoy every single day.
Public Relations embodies our innate tendency to want to inform, share, and educate. A very natural form of public relations surfaces around the first of November with one of Canada’s most recognizable symbols, the poppy. On November 11th, Canadians everywhere gather to participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies, building an intangible sense of camaraderie, patriotism, and love. This feat is not easily attained by most “PR tactics” but instead, is one that is inherently present on this day each year.
The members of our military, both past and present, played an important role in the logistics of the ceremony captivating the public with their unity and presence. In downtown Ottawa, seeing men and women in uniform is a staple to many of our days, but it isn’t every day when one has the opportunity to learn first hand about the role they play and the impact they have.
uOPRA had the opportunity to speak with some outstanding men engaged with the Canadian military at the Cartier Square Drill Hall. We were lucky to hear from individuals of all ranks, starting with Liam; a young cadet whose interest was sparked from a love of planes at a very early age. An aspiring pilot, Liam’s appreciation for aviation began with the lessons he learned with the Air Cadets. Liam’s enthusiasm and maturity at such an early age spoke volumes of the positive impact the program has had on his life already. We moved up the ranks and heard from Ryan, a former uOttawa Criminology Major, who joined the military at a young age in 1992 after high school. He shared his experience with us and summarized it in three words, “service, discipline, and leadership”. Serving two tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan, Ryan told uOPRA about how the leadership and communication skills he learned from the special forces crossed over to his civilian and family life. Unintentionally, Ryan personified the tools a modern public relations professional might have; the ability to be very genuine, comfortable, and confident.
A.J., an alumni of the Cameron Highlanders, and an active association member, spoke to us next about his personal experience with the association and the Remembrance Day ceremony. The Cameron Highlanders partake in community outreach, provide personal and monetary support, and plan meetings for association members. With a strong commitment to “look after it’s troops,” members of the Cameron Highlanders are a strong foundation to the regiment.
The Remembrance Day ceremony acts as a bridge between veterans and civilians, creating a relationship, sharing a story, and starting a dialogue. The unity this day creates symbolizes the true nature of public relations: reaching the masses with a message, and in this case the message reached record breaking numbers at the National War Memorial. This message intertwines an interesting dichotomy in the celebration of Canada’s accomplishments, with a solemn sense of mourning. We, as Canadians, collectively partake in this tradition, which have, does, and forever will evoke passionate responses, and even stronger feelings.