We Should Honour Those Who Fought For Our Rights And Freedoms by Using Them to fight for the Common Good
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted November 11th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
A Remembrance Day column, written by retired general and former chief of the defence staff for the Canadian Forces Rick Hillier and published this November 10th in The Globe and Mail, carries the headline; “Canada was forged in the trenches of the First World War,” and begins as follows –
“Life is busy in Canada and for that reason, there seems to be only a fleeting moment in November when any of us pay attention to our history. Nevertheless, Canadians need to remember because in the mud and horror of the First World War, our nation was forged.”
In a statement he sent home from 100th year Remembrance and Armistice Day ceremonies in Europe this November 11th, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, echoed a similar sentiment.
During the final hundred days of the First World War,” said the Prime Minister, “Canadians spearheaded attacks that overcame the last lines of German defenses and paved the way to final victory. These soldiers were the face and strength of a young country that sacrificed beyond measure and never faltered in its duty.
“Their bravery garnered the respect and admiration of the world, and marked a turning point for Canada. We began to define ourselves as a country – a force on the world stage, confident, and in control of our own destiny.”
The last thing I would ever want to question or take away from is the bravery and sacrifice those who served us during time of war have made in the name of our freedoms and democracy.
In fact we should all try to do a better job of honouring that bravery and sacrificed than by just wearing a poppy for a few days every November or by spending a buck or two on a “support our troops” decal to stick on the bumper of our car.
We could start by getting more engaged in the civic affairs of our communities and our country, and by actually going out and voting, which six out of every ten of us across Niagara did not bother to do in this past October 22nd municipal elections.
I often find it a little odd or sad when I describe someone in a column I write about as a “community activist” or, in the case of protecting our natural environment or stopping animal abuse as an “environmental activist” or an “animal rights activist.”
Out of respect for those who fought and died for our rights and freedoms, we should all get more engaged in the affairs of our communities and country. We should all be activists!
But getting back to the idea of Canada first defining itself or coming into its own as a nation through its sacrifice of young people in a horrific war most agree today should never have happened save for the power-grabbing and greed of a handful of autocrats and a series of catastrophic blunders, it is also sad to think that a relatively peaceful nation like ours came into its own as a nation of the world through war.
In this 21st Century, I think one of the most meaningful ways we can honour those who fought for our rights and freedoms – not just on Remembrance Day or for a few weeks each year – is to get more engaged in civic affairs and to work every day to define Canada as an uncompromising world leader in humanitarian and peace-making endeavours, and in fighting what a multitude of experts around the world is calling us the most urgent and dangerous crisis of our times, climate change.
A hundred years after a world war that claimed more than 60,000 Canadian lives and hundreds of thousands of others – a war that set the tone for the one of the bloodiest centuries in human history – those seem like some nation-defining goals that might do those who fought for our rights and freedoms proud.
I will leave you with one of my all-time favourite anti-war songs, written by Pete Seeger, and performed here by Peter, Paul & Mary –
Here is the Remembrance Day statement from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau –
November 11, 2018
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Remembrance Day:
“Today, we honour every Canadian who has served and sacrificed so we may live free. We fall silent to acknowledge a debt we can never repay. We remember.
“One hundred years ago today, the Armistice between Germany and the Allies ended the First World War. As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, we also mark Canada’s Hundred Days.
“During the ‘100 Days Offensive,’ Canadians spearheaded attacks that overcame the last lines of German defences and paved the way to final victory. These soldiers were the face and strength of a young country that sacrificed beyond measure and never faltered in its duty.
“Their bravery garnered the respect and admiration of the world, and marked a turning point for Canada. We began to define ourselves as a country – a force on the world stage, confident, and in control of our own destiny.
“Since then, every generation of Canadians has stepped forward to serve. Thousands have fought, and continue to fight, to defend the principles of peace, freedom, and democracy around the world.
“At 11:00 am, I call on all Canadians to observe the two minutes of silence. We remember every Canadian who has sacrificed their future for generations beyond their own. We stand today, free and at peace, because of them.
“Lest we forget.”
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