Odd Thoughts: Keep remembering without them

Tomorrow (Nov. 11) is probably a more significant day than most people living in Canada today can realize.

People living in many parts of the Middle East would have no difficulty understanding the full significance of the day. The vast majority of Syrians would love dearly to have their own Remembrance Day – an Armistice Day of their own.

Their firsthand understanding is what brought so many thousands of them to unfamiliar places like Canada to make a fresh start on their lives.

The average Canadian’s understanding of Remembrance Day lacks a direct experience of war – my closest engagement through more than six decades of life has been the stories my father told me about the Second World War (he was born days after the First World War exploded all over Europe).

Graphic documentation, filmmakers’ interpretations, and schoolbook history provide glimpses of what tens of thousands of Canadian boys – and their families – went through.

But even when we are forced to face the realities of war today, it’s a modest taste we get.

When four Canadian soldiers were killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2002, our nation went into mourning. They were the first Canadian military deaths in a combat zone since Korea.

So many deaths – so many coffins – all at one time. We were horrified, and justly so.

So to gain a hint of an understanding of Remembrance Day, a day to pause for thoughts of those who sacrificed their lives in war, consider the battle for Passchendaele Ridge, which ended exactly 99 years ago today – precisely a year and a day before the armistice was signed to end the First World War.

We balk today at sending a few hundred soldiers into harm’s way.

Our ancestors put 650,000 soldiers – mostly boys – into the line of fire. And Canada’s population was a fraction of what it is today.

Passchendaele’s 10-day assault claimed the lives of more than 4,000 Canadian boys – an average of 400 per day. Another 12,000 were wounded.

The bent and wizened veterans of that war are all passed into history now, as are most of those who reminded us every Remembrance Day of the horrific costs of the Second World War.

If we don’t remember without them, we’ll have more. That’s the nature of war.

That’s what we need to remember, more than anything.



Just Posted

UPDATE: Langley police raid home in search for murder suspect Teixeira

Several law enforcement agencies were at a Willoughby home, hunting for a man charged with murder.

Mounties need help finding Langley woman

Familiy haven’t spoken to Megan Terpsma much since June 2017, and concerned for her well-being.

Throwback Thursday: Does anyone remember what this tumbedown building was originally?

Can you help us identify this decrepit building, or provide it with an appropriate caption?

Odd Thoughts: Langley councillors get the easy chair

Getting onto a municipal council is a numbers game. You don’t have to be everyone’s top pick.

Not too bad for a Langley boy who didn’t really like volleyball

Daniel Jansen VanDoorn is playing with the Canada Team in men’s volleyball world championships.

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Burnaby pedestrian in hospital after being hit crossing busy street

Driver remained on scene, is speaking to RCMP

5 to start your day

Massive barn fire in Agassiz, messages of hope line Vancouver-area bridge and more

The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence

Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.

Vancouver councillors move ahead with policy for duplexes on detached home lots

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the decision is another step toward adding homes in the city for the so-called “missing middle.”

Canada’s goal is to play in a medal game at World Cup in Spain

The 2014 women’s world basketball championships were a coming out party for Canada.

World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia

There was no mention of Russia publicly accepting a state-sponsored conspiracy to help its athletes win Olympic medals by doping.

Most Read