As Remembrance Day approaches we reflect on how much this event has changed through the years, but how much we still need this solemn reminder — maybe now more than ever.
Many readers will remember when there was a multitude of parents and grandparents — veterans all — who donned their uniforms and poppies and, with sad eyes, marched yearly to the cenotaph to lay wreaths and think of friends and family who never made it home.
As a newspaper, it was a simple matter to find a First or Second World War veteran to interview for the occasion, to bring home the reality of war and its incalculable losses.
So many of these folks are now gone. There is no one left to tell the first-hand tales of serving in the trenches in the First World War. There are few to tell us of the Second, and their numbers diminish every year.
But just because these folks who fought for Canada in these two global conflicts are no longer around in large numbers doesn’t make Remembrance Day any less important.
Look at the world we live in today. Conflicts abound. Refugees are numerous and desperate. All too many have their own, fresh, memories of wars that rage in other parts of the world.
There’s a president in the White House south of the border who seems determined to play nuclear chicken with a dictator in North Korea.
Syria remains a war zone, as does Iraq, and then there are the African nations where refugee camps have turned into decades-long homes for the residents there, as they seek to flee ongoing conflicts.
No, the lessons of the costs of war have not yet been learned well enough.
On Remembrance Day we say “lest we forget”, yet it seems we have indeed collectively forgotten in far too many cases.
Those who fought and died in the First and Second World Wars did so with the hope that we in successive generations wouldn’t have to suffer a similar fate. That’s what Remembrance Day is all about: an honouring of our dead, yes, but also a warning of the price to be paid in conflict.
It’s worth taking that minute of silence, seeing the solemnity on the faces of those who have been there, and contemplating what we want our future to look like.