Remembrance Day, on Nov. 11, is the day set aside to remember those Canadians who served and sacrificed for their country, and to honour those who are still serving.
The observance is an acknowledgment of the high cost of war, and a plea that it will not be repeated. The day must not become a celebration of past military victories or a rallying cry to recruit young people to enlist in military service.
Most importantly, the accounts of past wars must not be trivialized or downplayed. The high cost of war must never be forgotten.
In communities around the country, cenotaphs and other memorial markers list the names of fallen soldiers from the two world wars and other military actions during Canada’s history.
Each of the people named on these cenotaphs left behind family members and friends. Others who were wounded during wartime action, in some cases disabled for life, or returned with emotional scars after what they had witnessed.
These accounts, as important as they are, do not tell the complete story. Wars also take a toll on civilians living in affected areas. In some areas, unexploded mines and remnants of chemical weapons present ongoing threats, even after the end of the war.
During the Second World War alone, more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries were involved in the war effort. That war, the most destructive in recorded history, lasted six years and resulted in between 70 million and 85 million deaths. The deaths involved military personnel and civilians, and included deaths from the war as well as genocide, famine, starvation, massacres and disease.
This and any war must be seen for what it was.
Referring a disliked world leader or public figure to a member of a brutal regime serves to minimize the effects of the war. Comparing a peacetime public policy to a deadly military action shows a lack of understanding of history. And altering an image to show a contemporary public figure as a member of a past dictatorship is dishonest and shows a poor understanding of history.
To prevent a future global war, it is important to learn from what has happened in the past.
Without a solemn time of remembrance, we run the risk of future wars, possibly much more destructive than anything that has occurred in the past.
– Black Press