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Remembrance Day has new poignancy

We have honoured the dead of two world wars and several other conflicts on November 11 for many years now. It has always been a solemn and important occasion to offer thanks to the many soldiers who gave their lives to defeat evil forces and preserve peace and freedom for the world.

As the years passed, though, I have noticed the gradual thinning out of young people at those ceremonies. It seemed like more and more people present were grey-haired men and women who had lived through or remembered wartimes, who had lost family members,

friends and comrades in battle. There have been some discussions about the significance of Remembrance Day. Questions arose whether in coming years there would still be the same feeling about the day.

The reaction to the horrors of war for all of us has always been “never again!” It was born in the hope that human beings and countries in opposition to one another would finally learn better ways to handle conflict, ways that would avoid taking up arms. That hope is still there but current reality in world affairs has dampened it.

If we had become complacent in our belief that the events of so many years ago were never to be repeated and that our secure and peaceful enclave would never again lose our sons and daughters to war, we were to learn differently. Our country has more reason than ever to be saddened this Remembrance Day. So many of our young men and women are again in harm’s way in a war zone. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear of new attacks against them in Afghanistan. Every one of these takes its toll in dead and wounded. At the time I am writing this, 97 valuable and precious young lives have been lost to our country since we started sending troups to the troubled area. Spouses and children, parents, siblings and friends have experienced the pain of losing a loved one forever. And we, to a less personal extent, share their feelings at every repatriation ceremony.

With the sadness, we also have more reason for pride and admiration for the young soldiers who dedicate themselves to righting wrongs and helping suppressed human beings to achieve peaceful lives. Throughout the mourning, we have heard the same testimony from families, comrades and superiors of the fallen ones: They were committed to their task and wanted nothing more than to be of help to the people suffering under cruel and inhuman conditions. Despite the fact that we regret the loss of these young lives, isn’t this the best eulogy for any human being: He loved his life’s work and did it well?

Not all of us agree with the decision of once again having our soldiers in the middle of a fierce struggle. But all of us should support the men and women who are there and who do a dangerous job very well.

On Remembrance Day, we will honour with all our hearts both the fallen of past wars and the ones who joined them now. And we will hope and pray that peace and security will finally be achieved in the area where they gave their lives, and that then all our soldiers can return home.

– Joyce Slobogian writes from Brandon, Manitoba

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