“I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else – I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.”
“The lessons from the peace process are clear; whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.”
“In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognize how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945.”
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch Canada and 15 other sovereign states and their territories and dependencies. She is the head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations. She has reigned for 60 years, the second longest for a British monarch after Queen Victoria who reigned for 63 years.
“If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,”
Kansas City, 1918, Ernest Hemingway signed up for Red Cross duty to become an ambulance driver in Italy. In May of that year, he arrived in Paris to find a city under bombardment from German artillery; by June, he was at the Italian Front. He knew first hand the devastation that came with war. July 8th, he was seriously wounded by mortar fire, sustaining severe shrapnel wounds to both legs. In spite of his injuries, Hemingway carried an Italian soldier to safety, for which he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. He was only 18 years old. For those of us who have not seen military action, we simply do not know the horror or fear that comes with the life of a soldier. But we can listen and learn from their experiences.
“You can wipe out your opponents. But if you do it unjustly you become eligible for being wiped out yourself.”
“No weapon has ever settled a moral problem. It can impose a solution but it cannot guarantee it to be a just one.”
“Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw”
Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest serving First Lady of the United States (1933 – 1945), understood that the road to peace was not for the fainthearted. It would take hard work and a strong determination to believe that reconciliation and peaceful outcomes were possible. She followed through on her convictions. After her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, died in 1945, she became a vibrant advocate for civil rights.
“All wars eventually act as boomerangs and the victor suffers as much as the vanquished”
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”
The United States observes Veterans Day on November 11th which coincides with Armistice Day or Remembrance Day celebrated in other parts of the world. They also hold a Memorial Day on the first Monday of May. Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.”
Remembrance Day services honour the fallen. It is a memorial, a time of giving thanks and a way of showing respect for the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty. But there are many others who have given their legs, arms, eyes, and hearing. Others suffer post traumatic stress disorder and face an uncertain integration into mainstream society. Friends and families share their distress as the valiantly support these brave men and women through the rehabilitation process.
Every Remembrance Day, I pledge to honour our armed forces by seeking peaceful solutions in my interactions, supporting just causes, upholding noble efforts and celebrating community. We can all make a difference.
“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”
“The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.”
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
“We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,”
Remembrance Day gives poignancy to humanity’s longing for the end of war. The only way to avoid violence is to understand conflict – what it is and how to respond in a way that promotes peaceful solutions and outcomes. There have been great military leaders who knew that war was not the answer. Sun Tzu, China’s great general believed that an army could attain victory without going to battle.
“No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique. Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life. Hence the enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution. This is the way to keep a country at peace and an army intact.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,”
The red remembrance poppy, inspired by the WWI poem “In Flanders Fields” was first adopted by our neighbours to the south. The American Legion used the poppy to commemorate American soldiers who died in the WWI 1914-1918. Shortly thereafter, the poppy was embraced by military veterans’ groups in the Commonwealth: Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Small artificial poppies (like the one I wear) are now worn on lapels and clothing a few weeks before the actual Remembrance/Armistice Day service.
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.”
James Bryce (British politician, diplomat, and historian 1838 – 1922)