During the many events and school assemblies I attend on a weekly basis, I have noticed many people don’t sing the national anthem when it is played. I am not referring to the students, who sing a loud, sometimes bilingual version. I am referring to the audience, the members of which for the most part stand silent.
I wonder why.
I assume almost everyone knows the English version. It is taught to elementary-aged children. I doubt people aren’t singing because they don’t know the words.
The national anthem is played when an athlete wins gold at the Olympics. As the camera focuses on their face, I have seen them singing as they clutch a bouquet of flowers, their medal hung around their neck for the world to see. Sometimes they cry.
When I attended Remembrance Day services in November, more people sang the anthem than usual. Awareness of our country is higher, I believe, when faced with veterans who fought for our freedom, and when remembering those who died for it.
Though our country isn’t perfect, we have a lot to be proud of and thankful for. We are free to express ourselves as we choose, and to associate with whomever we want. We can walk around in relative safety. We can turn on the tap and drink unpolluted water. If we can’t afford food, there are many social programs in place to ensure no one starves. We have one of the most highly educated populations in the world, and one of the highest standards of living. The United Nations consistently rates Canada as one of the world’s best countries to live in.
When I was in Argentina, people always asked where I was from. When I said Canada, those who had visited always told me what a nice country they thought it was. They were impressed with the cleanliness of the streets and the friendliness of the people. They liked how orderly the country was. When I visited Paraguay, people were amazed when I told them I could safely take public transit, and walk around by myself during the day.
We are so fortunate to live here, but it’s easy to take everything we have for granted.
It had never occurred to me to be grateful for how freely I can walk around. Perhaps we just need to remember what we truly have, and to show our appreciation for it.
We live in a great country, and we should recognize that by singing the national anthem. O Canada, the true north strong and free.