By: Laura Steiner
In Canada it’s easy to forget. Many immigrants come from war torn countries, and are quickly wrapped up in the pressures of adjusting to their new lives. They find jobs, schools for their children and slowly begin immersing themselves in security and peace that they’ve sought here. It’s easy to forget for the rest of us because we’ve only known peace, and prosperity, and sometimes take it for granted. It’s easy to forget that this country as a peacekeeping nation has had its turn at war.
It’s easy to forget that the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month isn’t only a day and time on a calendar. It was the time the armistice was signed ending World War I. Canada lost 61,000 soldiers over the course of the conflict. Names such as Vimy Ridge, The Somme, and Paschendale became part of the Canadian story. Vimy Ridge was said to be the first time 4 Canadian divisions fought under a Canadian commander Sir Arthur Currie. Canadian medic Col. John McCrae wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields,” about the sights, and sounds of the conflict.
It’s easy to forget the Battle of Britain, or Dieppe. Or that at D-Day Canadians fought on Juno Beach, and gained the most distance of any allied forces involved in the operation. It’s easy to forget Canadian troops were responsible for liberating huge portions of Holland. Or that the Germans actually surrendered General Charles Foulkes in Holland. It’s easy to forget Canada’s role as a training ground for pilots. Small airports dot the countryside in Ontario as a reminder.
It’s easy to forget because as time continues its endless march we lose those memories. That’s what makes the act of Remembrance, and the day itself important. Because in remembering we breathe new life into these stories. It becomes easier to imagine the battlefields of W.W. I through the words of John McCrae, or consider what life must have been like for Anne Frank under the Nazi regime through her own words. We recall the events, and the people that made them happen. We renew our vow that “never again” will we let this happen.
It’s taken on a new significance the last few years. 157 soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan and we now remember them too. We remember them standing on the overpasses, cheering and saluting as they pass by along the Highway of Heroes. We remember them through the stories told by their comrades, families, and friends. We wear the poppy in their memory as well.
Even if you don’t end up at an official ceremony take a few moments from your day and remember. It’s take a lot of sacrifice to keep Canada as safe, and prosperous as it is today.