Remembrance Day

Listening to the radio today (having guiltily used the day for my own relaxation, and neglected going to a ceremony), I am reminded of how much I appreciate the name of this holiday in Canada: Remembrance Day.

The day to commemorate fallen war dead is the anniversary of the end of "the Great War," the "War to End All Wars," now known as World War I; and accordingly, some of the coverage includes references to the successes of that war (yet even there, commentators do not forget to observe that "teenaged" Canada which emerged "grown-up" from that war did so at the cost of horror and death). Canadian troops are presently engaged in combat in Afghanistan, so that is oft-mentioned as well.

But overall, the focus of Remembrance Day is exactly that: remembrance. It is not a day in which we glorify war, trumpet our successes, and flaunt our patriotism. Instead, it is a solemn day when we remember and grieve those who have died in war. There is a place, therefore, for the both the soldier and the pacifist, for the enlisted and the civilian.

We remember. We remember sons, fathers, comrades, mothers, daughters, friends. We remember heroism, cowardice, and just plain 'wrong place at the wrong time'. We remember in order to go on; to fight, inspired by the sacrifices of those who came before; or, to seek peace, to consider another way, to solve conflicts without an offering to the blood-thirsty, never-satiated war machine which gorges on young ideals fighting for honour, glory, and love, while leaders make war over politics and greed.

To remember is to . . .


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