Editorial: Lest We Forget

It’s been many years since the first Remembrance Day was held, back in 1919 to honour those who had served in the First World War.

It’s been many years since the first Remembrance Day was held, back in 1919 to honour those who had served in the First World War, the “war to end all wars.”

Unfortunately it wasn’t an end to war, and now we also remember those who served and died in the Second World War, as well as many other wars and peacekeeping missions since.

But given the length of time since the great wars, the reason we set aside this day of remembrance gets lost and misconstrued. Young people, especially, can be ambivalent or even hostile about participating in the day. After all, for many young people, not even their parents were alive to experience the last world-wide conflict.

For some, the reason for Remembrance Day has become so forgotten that they see it as a celebration of the heroism of soldiers or the violence of war. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Remembrance Day isn’t a celebration. Rather, it’s a reminder that sometimes sacrifices have to be made to defend the freedoms Canadians hold so dear, or to correct injustices.

Canada, in particular, has a proud heritage in this respect. During the first half of the twentieth century, more than 1.5 million Canadians took up arms to defend peace and freedom in the two World Wars and the Korean war. At least 110,000 of them died.

But following these tragic conflicts, Canada switched its aim to preventing wars. For more than 50 years Canada led the world in peacekeeping, with Canadians putting themselves on the line between hostile forces, supervising ceasefires and disarming warring factions.

That role has expanded over the years to include repatriating refugees, delivering aid, even reclaiming clearing land mines to reclaim war-torn landscapes. But still, many lives were lost pursuing these peaceful goals.

So, as Remembrance Day rolls around, forget about the war movies on TV, forget about having an extra day off and remember the wars, genocides, famines, police states, and crimes against humanity that the world has lived through.

And, especially, remember the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice, giving their lives fighting for our freedom.

Then ask yourself what the world would be like without their sacrifice.

– Black Press