100 Years of Remembering

The Centennial Anniversary of the 1918 Armistice has arrived, and it got me thinking, putting time in perspective, it was not that long ago in terms of history. In Canada, we celebrate it as Remembrance Day on every November 11, so every year, just about every community has Cenotaphs that people lay their wreaths and Red Poppies at. There is usually a parade, but everywhere people are asked to give two minutes of silences, to pay tribute to those who fought and gave their lives during those days of war. 

So lets do the Maths on this. I am just over fifty, so, when I was born, the end of the First Wold War was just under fifty years old, and the end of the Second World War was just about thirty years old by then. The Korean War had ended just over a decade ago, and I was alive during the Vietnam War. (All these dates are approximations) And yet, looking back before my time was almost impossible, or impossible to find a context to put it in. As a kid, time was not relative, as I did not fully understand it, as my life experience was so little to draw upon. And this is why we need Remembrance Day. It is away to put all of this into perspective, and above all, never to forget, which can easily happen when you were never born during that time, and never experienced it.

Regrettably, never forgetting does not mean we have learned our lessons, as Wars are common throughout mankind’s history. We seem to allow history repeat itself at an almost rhythmic pattern, and conflicts are a constant drone throughout the world. Wars are fought differently now, compared to a hundred years. As my grade seven teacher once told us in class, “then, you could see the face of your enemy, but today, an ocean can separate you,” (Mr. Simons, Circa. 1979). So perhaps remembering could put things into perspective, and may cool the tensions of allowing wars to ignite. We can only hope, but we must never forget. 

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