Remembrance: It hasn’t ended
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.”