• Peter Drohan

O Canada: A Reflection

Every morning at 9:00, O Canada rings proudly through the hallways and classrooms of schools all across the country. This ritual has been practiced long since before I started school and has been programmed into the conscience of the student body. Every day, students at Citadel High prove what this song is worth to them.

From an early age, I found O Canada very powerful. Standing beside my desk was a pleasure. It took my imagination to Remembrance Day and to why we wear the poppy in early fall. Of course my knowledge was limited at such a young age, but I was proud to hear the loud choir coming from the public announcement system. I remember with every year the anthem continued to lose its influence on my classmates and me. By the end of elementary school, it was a perfect opportunity to try to make a joke or do something disruptive. The song had lost its edge -- that’s the kind of thing that happens after listening to it about 1100 times over the six years you spend in elementary school.

Eventually, in junior high, the interest in O Canada dropped dramatically. It was no surprise that 12 year-old me did not know about the history of Canada and the importance of our anthem. Just like everyone else I would never pay attention; you probably would have seen me doing my best to make my friends laugh. Of course disrespect came at a lot of different levels in junior high. If it’s poking your classmate in front of you or making a funny face, all forms of disrespect add up. Looking back on it, these mini rebellions were the actions of young teenagers that needed some more sleep and were simply sick of hearing the anthem. These small issues were nothing compared to the things one would see in high school.

During my first days at Citadel, I was taken aback -- and I still am -- by what goes on during O Canada. When the bell sounds and the voice of the secretary creeps over the classrooms and hallways to “rise for the playing of our national anthem”, there is a collective groan. The thought of getting out of your chair at 9:05 to hear the recorded national anthem play for about the 2000th time is not an appealing one. I have seen many things in the hallway during this time, often because I am late. I see kids with their hats on, people talking, people on their phones and people walking to class to make sure they are not the extra 30 seconds late. It is amazing how little respect this song commends in high school, and it makes me sad to see it get worse every year. The simple act of standing and listening to the anthem play has almost died out.

I am not a particularly patriotic person, but I do my best to pay my respects to the country I am so lucky to live in. Seeing people my age, people who are supposed to be mature and open minded, disrespecting the national anthem makes me worry about the future of this country. So I challenge you, to stand tall during our anthem and I challenge you to lead by example and show the other people around you how important it is to show some love for our great country.