As Marie Cromar and her family walked through Point Pleasant Park yesterday towards the Battle of the Atlantic memorial, they were stopped by a youth asking them what was going on.
“He didn’t have a clue. So we told him a little bit about it and he was getting Vimy Ridge mixed up with it,” said Cromar.
“We’re not teaching our younger people Canadian history, maybe. This is all part of being Canadian.”
The annual ceremony — this year celebrating the 65th anniversary of the end of the near six-year-long Second World War naval offensive — was not short on participants. Hundreds of people gathered at the Point Pleasant Park naval monument, ranging from veterans to small children.
It was those in between, the people in their teens and 20s, that a quick scan of the crowd revealed were underrepresented.
Michael Hatton, 23, is a self-described military brat who makes a point of heading to ceremonies such as Remembrance Day. But he doesn’t see many others of his age group doing the same.
“I just think it’s something every Canadian ought to do more often than they do,” he said.
“I think most Canadians are very out of touch with their history, particularly military history. I don’t think people give a just amount of credit to what people have done in the past to make this country what it is today.”
Over 2,000 Canadian navy crew and 900 RCAF and army personnel died during the Battle of the Atlantic. In the process they made nearly 26,000 safe crossings, delivering over 181 million tonnes of supplies to Great Britain.
Not everyone is growing up ignorant of this story. Anthony Bissonnette asked his 10-year-old daughter how many Canadian warships were lost in the Battle of the Atlantic.
“Twenty-four” she correctly replied.
“That’s a start,” he said.