Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, is the day set aside to remember Canadians who served and sacrificed for their country and to honour those who are still serving.
The observance is an acknowledgment of the high cost of war. The day should not become a celebration of past military victories or a rallying cry to recruit young people to enlist for military service. But most importantly, the accounts of past wars must not be trivialized or downplayed. The high cost of war must never be forgotten by any of us.
In communities around the country, cenotaphs and other memorial markers list the names of fallen soldiers from the two world wars and other military actions during Canada’s history.
Each of the people named on these memorials left behind family members and friends. Others were wounded during wartime action, in some cases disabled for life, or returned with emotional scars from the horrors they witnessed.
These accounts, as important as they are, do not tell the complete story. Wars also take a toll on civilians living in affected areas. In some regions, unexploded mines and remnants of chemical weapons present ongoing threats, even after a war has finished.
During the Second World War alone, more than 100 million people from over 30 countries were involved. The most destructive in recorded history, that war lasted six years and resulted in between 70 million and 85 million deaths. The deaths involved military personnel and civilians and included deaths from the war and genocide, famine, starvation, massacres and disease.
This and any war must be seen for what they were and not how they have been portrayed in the movies.
To prevent a future global war, it is important to learn from what has happened in the past.
Without a solemn time of remembrance, we run the risk of future wars, possibly much more destructive than anything in the past.