One of the crime scenes

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest We Forget

In Flanders Field

Today at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we commemorate the end of the Great War to End All Wars. Of course as it turned out it didn't end all wars, and still today we have wars all over, some of which are difficult to even explain, understand or justify.

But we take this moment to think of those who have served and in too many cases sacrificed so much - even life itself, in the hope that their heirs could enjoy freedom and peace.

To help put this day in perspective I would recommend reading The state of things Remembrance Day at the Galloping Beaver.

We lost our last Great War veteran this past year. We are losing veterans of the Second World War at an exponential rate. Very soon there will be none. There are peacetime veterans scattered about and even though Afghanistan is a major conflict, it is dwarfed by the scale of those conflicts before it. It is, if I might say this, our first peacetime war..../snip

....On 11 November 2008, a former fighter pilot turned Conservative member of parliament recited not a line from the McCrae's wrenching call for peace or some careful words about the danger of war, but a tasteless barrack ballad by a USMC padre glorifying the military and chastising those who did not bow at its altar. This man publicly fantasized that the Russian air force posed a threat the Olympics. This man was from a party whose leader so recently declared in the House of Commons that his was the only party for the troops. There was sulphur in the air that day and it weren't from the gun salute.

Over the past several years too, we've seen members of the governing party don military uniform and rank as habit.

Nevermind that they hide OUR wounded from us and pass bills that slash their benefits. Nevermind that the prime minister suspended parliament rather than answer hard and justified questions about the conduct of the war.

Nevermind that his government put Air Canada's whinge ahead of the logistical needs of the Canadian Forces at war.

Nevermind that this government maintains our - optional - committment to this - optional - war that produces this current generation of veterans. The prime minister's word and we stop making new combat veterans. It is that simple.

We've watched this government deploy the armed services against the Canadian public whilst we were exercising the very freedom that the fading generation bled and died to defend. We've seen those Canadians questioned for their actions there by a member of this government also seen in unearned rank and uniform.

But today is the day to remember those who have sacrificed. Tommorrow we can again think of dealing with those who would exploit people's love of country for their own phoney objectives or greed or power.


Anonymous Grant G said...

"The war to end all wars"

What a concept....War is coming at us from within...

Tomorrow we fight again, today we toast heroes.


Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 9:42:00 AM PST  
Anonymous BC Mary said...

Thanks Koot for trying to capture our own tortured emotions as we think of lost generations and, most important, the kind of world they expected when (if) they got home again.

We ourselves are now flung into desperate battle with almost no preparation or training. It's the same kind of battle for survival -- only different battlefields, different tools.

Then I read (Salt Spring News) about the veterans coming home crippled and dazed from today's wars and it curdles the blood to realize that we're so stupid, blind, uncaring.

But isn't Colonel Sogrun magnificent? He made the difference. We can too, I guess. However, today was a time of mourning to realize that we keep having to go through these terrible blundering things.

We took the brightest and best from two generations (1914-1918 and 1939-1945) and slaughtered them in WWI and WWII. What kind of world might it have been, if we had kept the brightest and best on the domestic front to create the best possible society.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 5:17:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gary E said...

Thanks Koot.
It never hurts to get all perspectives abut war or peace.

You brought something to light here for me. In the piece from th Galloping Beaver, he mentions peacetime veterans. I never thought of myself as a veteran, but he is correct. As a former member of the RCAF, the old syllabus, not the new one called the Armed Forces. It was peacetime and just before the peace movement in which I played my small part.
And I was proud to take part in both.

Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 6:40:00 PM PST  

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