LEST WE FORGET

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS -

One hun­dred years ago to­day, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, the ar­mistice end­ing hos­til­i­ties in the First World War was signed.

That global con­flict, in which 66,000 Cana­dian sol­diers died, was sup­posed to be the war to end all wars. But it was a vain hope. In the Sec­ond World War, 47,000 Cana­di­ans died fight­ing for free­dom.

Then 516 Cana­di­ans died fight­ing in the Korean War and 158 in Afghanistan, along with 130 Cana­di­ans who have died on peace­keep­ing mis­sions around the world.

But these ter­ri­ble losses were not the only ones ex­acted from these wars.

For in ad­di­tion to these deaths, well over 200,000 Cana­di­ans were wounded in these con­flicts — both in body, mind and spirit.

As much as mem­bers of our mil­i­tary served over­seas in all of these con­flicts, their fam­i­lies and friends served back at home be­cause they too had to cope with the ter­ri­ble un­cer­tainty of war and the pos­si­bil­ity of the death or se­ri­ous in­jury of their loves ones, which would change all their lives for­ever.

It’s why to­day and ev­ery Re­mem­brance Day for 100 years, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we hold me­mo­rial ser­vices and ob­serve two min­utes of si­lence across our coun­try to hon­our our war dead and all those who served both at home and abroad.

We do so not to glo­rify war, for war is the most ter­ri­ble of hu­man en­deav­ours that as a na­tion we should al­ways strive to avoid at all costs.

But there are mo­ments in our his­tory — too many — where blood is the price that free­dom de­mands, and Cana­di­ans have al­ways been pre­pared to pay for the de­fence of their fel­low cit­i­zens.

Our war vet­er­ans do not glo­rify war, for they know war is hell on earth. To the con­trary, our war vet­er­ans — and there are fewer and fewer of them ev­ery year — are our great­est liv­ing am­bas­sadors for peace.

All they ask, when we send them into global con­flicts, is that we prop­erly equip them for the job that needs to be done and that, what­ever our per­sonal views about war, we re­spect that it is their job to do what demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ments in Canada have asked them to do on be­half of all Cana­di­ans.

It is also not enough sim­ply to re­mem­ber our war dead, and all who served and serve in our mil­i­tary, for two min­utes out of the year.

We have a moral obli­ga­tion ev­ery day to see that the mem­bers of our armed forces and their fam­i­lies — both past and present — are prop­erly cared for, with de­cent pen­sions and med­i­cal ben­e­fits and other forms of real-world sup­port.

That is both our obli­ga­tion and our duty, and it is a re­spon­si­bil­ity that never ends.

ASH­LEY FRASER

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