The value of Re­mem­brance


As both a Vet­eran and a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment my thoughts this week have been on the value of re­mem­brance.

Vet­er­ans Week pro­vides us with the op­por­tu­nity to pay tribute to the more than 113,000 Cana­di­ans who died in ser­vice to this na­tion dur­ing the First World War and in the wars, con­flicts and mil­i­tary mis­sions that fol­lowed.

This year in par­tic­u­lar, we are mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of Canada’s Hun­dred Days and the Ar­mistice, the 65th an­niver­sary of the Korean War Ar­mistice, the 10th an­niver­sary of Na­tional Peace­keep­ers’ Day, and the 75th an­niver­sary of the in­va­sion of Si­cily and the be­gin­ning of the Ital­ian Cam­paign in the Sec­ond World War.

In stark con­trast, we have also been called upon to re­mem­ber a less hon­ourable time in Cana­dian his­tory.

On November 7th, the Govern­ment of Canada apol­o­gized to the de­scen­dants of the pas­sen­gers of the MS St. Louis, nine hun­dred Ger­man Jews, who, in the spring of 1939, sought refuge from a ris­ing and bru­tal Nazi regime.

With mo­tives rooted in anti-Semitism and na­tion­al­ism, Canada turned its back to their plight and turned them away, guar­an­tee­ing that the men, women and chil­dren aboard would be among the many that died dur­ing the Holo­caust.

It is a Canada we are hard pressed to rec­og­nize but an im­por­tant chap­ter in our his­tory we must not for­get.

Re­mem­ber­ing is of no value un­less we act on what we have learned.

As painful as the past has been, and as dif­fi­cult as times may seem to­day, we owe it to our­selves to walk the path of our Vet­er­ans, to put oth­ers be­fore self, to work for the greater good, and to re­in­force the prin­ci­ples of tol­er­ance, equal­ity and com­pas­sion so their sac­ri­fice was not in vain.

To com­mem­o­rate the First World War Ar­mistice and hon­our all those who have served, the Peace Tower bells in Ot­tawa will ring out Sun­day, as will those in Mons, Bel­gium, the fi­nal town lib­er­ated dur­ing the First World War by the Cana­dian Corps. At night­fall that day, bells will also ring out in Cana­dian com­mu­ni­ties from coast to coast to coast as a way of re­mem­ber­ing.

As we gather at lo­cal ceno­taphs on Sun­day, let us see the value in re­mem­brance and the power it has to pre­serve what we value most. His­tory can­not be changed, but in re­mem­ber­ing it, we lessen our chances that we are con­demned to re­peat it.

Stephen Fuhr is the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Kelowna-Lake Coun­try and a Cana­dian Air Force vet­eran.

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