Re­mem­brance: It hasn’t ended

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - OPINION - — Hugo Ro­drigues

One hun­dred years ago, in the muddy trenches and bat­tle­fields of Eu­rope, only hours re­mained un­til the Armistice.

A war that was sup­posed to be over by Christ­mas 1914 was any­thing but as the two sides dug into France and Bel­gium and en­trenched them­selves.

The First World War, whose end we mark the cen­te­nary of on Sun­day, re­shaped Canada in ways no one could have pre­dicted.

It marked the be­gin­ning of our tran­si­tion from an agri­cul­tural and ru­ral coun­try to an ur­ban one.

It was the most-sig­nif­i­cant event that con­sol­i­dated the mil­i­tary such as it ex­isted at the time into a sin­gle, re­spected fight­ing force.

A Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force that fought in some of the war’s blood­i­est, mud­di­est bat­tles. Over 60,000 ca­su­al­ties in a coun­try whose pop­u­la­tion was just in the mil­lions meant ev­ery cross­roads, al­most ev­ery con­ces­sion had ei­ther lost a res­i­dent in death or wel­comed them home but lost some in the fog of war.

The end of the war was cel­e­brated by our me­dia col­leagues of the day – op­er­at­ing in a very dif­fer­ent era of jour­nal­ism in terms of its re­la­tion­ship with those in power. Ex­cerpts be­low show how both our pre­de­ces­sor pub­li­ca­tions saw the Armistice at the time.

The sen­ti­ment was sim­i­lar a gen­er­a­tion later at the con­clu­sion of the Sec­ond World War. The front page of the Maple Leaf, a news­pa­per pub­lished by the gov­ern­ment for those serv­ing on the front lines and shared with us by the Laprades, beck­ons “It’s all over!” on its front page.

In­side, the sto­ries are about Vic­tory in Ja­pan, the end of the war on all fronts and the re­turn of sol­diers to their homes.

There is much to be proud of in Canada’s wartime lega­cies, and it is en­cour­ag­ing to have seen a re­nais­sance in re­mem­brance in our schools and among gen­er­a­tions who’ve largely not known war in the past 10 to 15 years.

But, 100 years af­ter the end of the for­mer and al­most 75 years af­ter the end of the lat­ter, we con­tinue to put the mem­bers of the Cana­dian Armed Forces in harm’s way. Whether by send­ing them to ac­tual com­bat around the world, or ne­glect­ing their needs here at home,

One hun­dred years af­ter the Armistice, which brought an end to the Great War – the war to end all wars – we still do not live in a peace­ful planet. Con­flicts be­tween king­doms of the early 20th cen­tury have been re­placed with those be­tween other in­ter­ests and pow­ers.

As long as that re­al­ity per­sists, there will al­ways be a need to re­peat thoughts like th­ese, from For the Fallen:

“At the go­ing down of the sun and in the morn­ing / We will re­mem­ber them.”

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