“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.”
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
“We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”
On November 11th, Canada will observe Remembrance Day. On that day, we will remember the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Across Canada, there will be a moment of silence at the 11th hour. In the year 1918, WWI hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”
I am wearing a red poppy, which is the Canadian symbol of Remembrance Day based on the poem “In Flanders Fields.”On May 3, 1915, Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was moved to write the poem after he presided over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle Ypres. This week, I am dedicating my posts to the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve their countries.
May we all continue to seek peaceful solutions…together.
“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”
Sir Winston Churchill