Friday, 1 November 2013

Lest we forget…

Yesterday I received a box of books previously owned by a WW II veteran who died earlier this year. An avid reader of military history he had accumulated quite a collection over the years, many of which meshed with my own interests, specifically the stories of the men and women of The Great War. Students of military history can argue over the tactics and strategies of war, but in the end the stories that resonate, that stay with us, are those of the people who lived, loved, fought, and died in the trenches.
The second decade of the 20th century was a different time, a time where 17 and 18-year-olds weren’t consumed with playing at war through increasingly violent video games but were actively embroiled in a deadly cauldron of brutality none of us can imagine. Those that survived  didn’t come home to psychiatrists, psychologists, and trauma councillors, but to families decimated by the loss of loved ones and a war-weary country that had just lost the better part of a generation. Most held the horrors they experienced to themselves, burying them deep knowing, and rightly so, that we would never be able to understand. Still they went on and farmed, worked, married, and raised their families. They were our grandparents and great-grandparents and, compared to the stereotypical self-indulgent youth of today, made of sterner stuff.
Historians claim that Canada’s future was forged in the crucible called Vimy. That may be so but it was only part of it. With nearly 10% of the population in uniform, and nearly 3% of the total population of the country killed or wounded between 1914 and 1918, the impact on the psyche of the nation cannot be denied, even to this day nearly a century later. 
And so it is with those thoughts in mind that I shall remember all veterans as we come up to another Remembrance Day - John as I read his books, my father and grandfather, aunts and uncles, and the hundreds of thousands of other men and women who have, over the years, fought for this country. Some made the ultimate sacrifice; others survived only to live with physical and psychological scars that affected their quality of life forever. All gave up more than we will ever know.
They all deserve our undying gratitude and respect, not only once a year but every day. Thank you.
Lest we forget.


  1. Well said. I think even those of my generation (born in the early 70's) can't really imagine how war was back in the day. We hear stories but it isn't really knowing as we weren't there and I personally have any family in the war. (Grandpa was in Coast Guard at the time in Alaska)

    I think that videos games have desensitized people to the horrors of war and at the same time glorified it as well. How unfortunate.

    Veterans Day here in the USA is not as somber as Remembrance Day which we grew up with in BC. It saddens me.

    1. I'm afraid we're losing the solemnity of Remembrance Day here as well. Most just view it as a holiday (if they get the day off) and a chance to hit the malls once the stores open. But there are still those that make it a point of attending the ceremonies and properly recognizing the day.

  2. The fear is if we forget ... then we may allow it to happen again. Sadly those who really know and can share with us are dwindling. I'm glad you've posted this post. Hopefully, even if we have never experienced this kind of tragedy ourselves, the memory can stay alive through us so we never forget.

    1. Thanks Karen. Although I do fear that after our generation the memories will quickly fade. While today's generation has Iraq and Afghanistan the number of veterans from those wars is miniscule compared to the 2 world wars. And as the number of people with a direct personal connection to those veterans is also relatively small it will be hard to maintain that critical mass needed to sustain Remembrance Day and its ceremonies as a special event.


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