Never again. Never for­get

“I come away from this with a re­newed de­ter­mi­na­tion to work to­wards peace.”

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY JOSH UNDERHAY GUEST OPIN­ION Josh Underhay of Char­lot­te­town was re­cently in Ot­tawa with the Teach­ers In­sti­tute on Cana­dian Par­lia­men­tary Democ­racy.


I have to be com­pletely hon­est.

After the Remembrance Day cer­e­mony to­day in Ot­tawa, I came up to the War Mon­u­ment and the Tomb of the Un­known Sol­dier and lay my poppy on the tomb.

On the side of the mon­u­ment are the dates of the ma­jor wars in which Canada has taken part, in­clud­ing the war in Afghanistan as re­cently as 2014.

Remembrance Day means many things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Some folks still ac­tively serve, some know a friend or fam­ily mem­ber who served, and some even know some­one who died. Emo­tions and dis­cus­sion around it can be var­ied.

But I have to be hon­est. Here is how it af­fected me.

As I stood be­fore the tomb, cov­ered with pop­pies, re­plete with pageantry, sur­rounded by In­sta­gram­mers, pho­tog­ra­phers, but also veter­ans, and all sorts of peo­ple, I could only pic­ture one thing.

Some poor soul dy­ing alone in the dirt.

The re­al­ity of the dark side of all this is that this sol­dier, this civil­ian, died with no glory. Deaths from war hap­pen far from pa­rades, from flags fly­ing, and from politi­cians’ speeches. It hap­pens around the world from the of­fices in which the de­ci­sions are made.

I walked away from the mon­u­ment and I felt over­come with emo­tion. Nor­mally I’m a pretty chill per­son. To­day I was over­come with rage at the in­jus­tice that al­lows young men and women to be butchered in the same of pol­i­tics, of racism, of ‘good in­ten­tions’.

For me, Remembrance Day is far from the glory of war.

It is a fu­neral.

The act of remembrance is an act of ac­knowl­edg­ing the hor­ror of sense­less death. Our men and women who serve and have served de­serve the best. They de­serve the best of sup­port after they come home hav­ing served, many with PTSD, in­jured, maimed, if they come home at all. Civil­ians around the world de­serve peace and the dig­nity of life. We all de­serve a peace­ful world.

I come away from this with a re­newed de­ter­mi­na­tion to work to­wards peace. I will de­nounce the voices that call for con­flict, who call for divi­sion and dif­fer­ence to be solved through bul­lets and blood. I sup­port our mil­i­tary, the men and women who serve, and think they de­serve not to be used as pawns by those with dark agen­das.

I sup­port civil­ians ev­ery­where who fear the sound of jets over­head, of bombs, and who them­selves seek refuge of con­flict, reper­cus­sions of which come back to de­ci­sions we make in wealth and priv­i­lege, and at the bal­lot box.

I will re­mem­ber those who died.

I will re­mem­ber those who called for their deaths.

Never for­get. Never again.

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