Morris Polansky worries that Canadians don’t understand the relevance of Remembrance Day.
“I spend a lot of time with the Legion, and we spend a lot of time delivering great bags of poppies to schools,” Polansky said.
Polansky, 95, is a Jewish-Canadian war veteran, who works with the Royal Canadian Legion to distribute poppies to different Toronto schools and subway stations. He is the vice-president of General Wingate Legion, Branch 256, the only Jewish-based branch in the organization.
Polansky believes that the younger generation still needs a better understanding of the sacrifices made by those who died in war, along with the symbolism of the poppy.
Polansky wants to see more opportunities to educate citizens from a young age, so they can grow up with a greater understanding of wartime service.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know what the poppy is for,” Polansky said. “I distribute poppies at the subway and it’s amazing … People come up and say, ‘What’s that for?’”
According to Historica Canada, the country’s largest organization dedicated to raising awareness of Canadian history, an online poll suggests that 80 per cent of Canadians feel that Remembrance Day is just as important now as it was after the First World War. On the other hand, only 46 per cent think that young people, “understand the sacrifices made by those who died in conflict.”
As the number of Second World War veterans falls, Polansky believes it is up to the current generation to keep the history of service in Canada’s war efforts alive by reinforcing the importance of Nov. 11 in the future.