Tonight, as the twilight closes in on November 11th, Remembrance Day, I think of my Father who was one who came back from WWII. The day he left home for the first time, in a soldier’s uniform at 18 years of age, he remembered hearing his mother playing a hymn on the piano as he walked down the road. There was no certainty, only a knowledge that life was precious.
Earlier this year, I traveled to St. John’s Newfoundland. It was a place that has always been on my “to visit” list ever since I studied the map of Canada in my early grades. Bannerman Park in St. John’s holds a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment soldiers and their families.
“The Homecoming” brings to mind both joy and sorrow, and the need to come together as a community.
“It’s passing on the torch to the next generation.” Sculptor Morgan MacDonald
“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.”