During the first half of the last century, two world wars convulsed the western world and large parts of the rest.
Death, injury, disfigurement, untold human suffering and loss hideously marred Europe.
The War to End All Wars did no such thing.
Twenty-one years after the last shot of that war was fired in 1918, the Nazis invaded Poland. Merely days after World War II ended in 1945, smaller, regional conflicts erupted around the globe.
Canadian men and women fought in the two world wars, as well as in the “lesser” regional wars, and they have served since then in countless constructive roles in places of danger throughout the world.
Like most soldiers of most standing armies, they were and are mostly very young. So many, alas, never returned home from the wars in which they fought and the various other campaigns in which they served.
We remember them always, as we must, but especially on Remembrance Day next week.
In former times, when more of the veterans of the two Great Wars still lived among us, society would actually come to a stop even if for only one moment at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to remember the fallen of the wars. In our schools and at public remembrance ceremonies, we recited In Flanders Fields, the poem written by Canadian Lieut.-Col. John McCrae, that has come to symbolize the ultimate sacrifice of soldiers and the human carnage of all wars.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
Reading the poem again, we understand that we honour the memories of the fallen and remember them best by cherishing, championing and protecting the values of the way of life of the country for which they fought and died.