In today’s article, I’d like to honour Remembrance Day and talk a bit about why it matters … beyond the fact that its observance has become a solemn ritual in most parts of the free world. There are countless annual gatherings where veterans of all ages and from all conflicts muster in full dress uniforms, displaying their medals proudly as they await their marching orders from the parade marshal. The parade assembly areas will be abuzz with anticipation; pipe bands tuning their drones, and marching bands receiving their last-minute instructions. And there will be a complex undertone of emotions that each participant will be secretly managing – because, whether their service was long ago or recent, I’m told the horrors of war are never far from the surface for anyone who has experienced it.
I’m among the many blessed to not know this first hand. My father served in WWII, but never spoke about his wartime experiences. I’ve come to understand that they were shocking, gut-wrenching and gruesome – and I’m sure they changed him at a most visceral level … because war does that. My mother also served in WWII, as a driver in the army. It was, after all, a World War, so there was hardly anyone who didn’t contribute to the allied effort in some way, whether at home or abroad.
Wars today are quite different, though … they seem to have morphed into an all too familiar backdrop of our everyday life, without necessarily interrupting much of our actual daily routine. Wars still happen “over there” … in some distant part of the world where conflict seems to thrive – places already long-struggling against some description of tyranny or oppression … many times, places we’d never heard of before, until the bowels of hell itself erupted all over their landscape and consumed every pleasurable aspect of their existence.
In stark contrast, most of us continue our lives of abundance and security, with often only a vague awareness of the daily news headlines reporting on some war, some where, being fought by some country’s troops. We have become desensitized by the relentless statistics of current death toll, or progress gained or assets lost.
When It Hits Close to Home …
And then, suddenly … tragically … that anonymous and far away war hits close to home, as we learn that someone from our own community has somehow been sacrificed to that nation whose name we never had a reason to speak before now. And in that sadness, the world – at least temporarily – seems a much smaller place, with our own security perhaps feeling not quite as comfortable as it once had. For it has now become personal, this cost of war, this price of freedom. And we might even become aware that our loss is not the only one taken from our community – which brings into stark focus the reality that the long, icy fingers of war can thrust into anyone’s heart anywhere and leave a permanent, jarring scar.
We have Remembrance Day ceremonies to raise our collective awareness that our privileged, secure existence is possible because our communities quietly dispatch their sons and daughters to serve as soldiers bravely willing to stand up and meet evil at its own doorstep – to fight valiantly to either defeat it, or in the very least, contain it, to ensure our own land remains strong and free. Because of their courage and sacrifice, we will never have to surrender any of our liberties … nor must we face those unspeakable horrors that all wars imprint on the souls of its soldiers.
So when it comes time to gather at your local cenotaph, let your heart be genuinely grateful as you look into the faces of those once proud warriors – they who gave up their youth to defend our way of life so fearlessly. Applaud them as they march by you – it’s the very least they deserve …
… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on those Good Things in Life!