Remembering the past and the present

Remembrance Day reminds us of ties we have to blood spilt on our behalf in nations far away.

Remembrance Day reminds us of ties we have to blood spilt on our behalf in nations far away.  A lot of us have personal connections to people who have served this country, or other countries, in lands far out of sight and mind.

My own history is tied to European conflicts.  My mother’s parents  immigrated to Canada at the outbreak of the first world war and my father came to Canada during the mass displacement of Eastern Europeans after the second world war.

Like a lot of people my age, I grew up with an easy relationship to the idea that war has often been necessary.  But the generation of men and women that have first hand experience of a war so clearly defined in common memory as justified is soon to be lost to us.  The last Canadian veteran of World War I, John Babcock died in 2010 at the age of 109, and there are only a handful of people alive in the world that have personal memories of serving in that conflict.

Veterans of World War II are aging as well.  My father’s personal story went to the grave with him as have the stories of many others.  Their experiences and memories live on in the hearts and minds of those that remember that our own lives, untouched by military conflict for most part, are separated from the horror of war by only a generation or so and maybe even only by a walk to a neighbour’s house.

Modern veterans continue to be made every day as military conflict throughout the world continues.  Modern wars are not as clearly defined and universally backed by nations and their citizens as some historical conflicts were.   I don’t know how the very young feel, but I imagine that it’s difficult for them to draw a strong connection between life in Canada now and sacrifices made, and still given, throughout the world.

Do recent veterans of modern conflicts enjoy the same respect we give to the more elderly members of past wars? The contemporary soldier’s involvement in a modern conflict is still motivated by what put men and women in harms way previously.

We are so close to these modern conflicts and battles that it is easy to become tied up in the politics and ideology that surround a conflict and to overlook the individual men and women that serve on our behalf.

I take Remembrance Day ceremonies as an opportunity to reconsider and reconnect with our deep and shared history tied to blood spilt in foreign lands.  But that blood continues to be shed.  The United Nations recognizes 12 ongoing international conflicts that each produce more than more than 1000 violent deaths per year.  There are another close 30 smaller ongoing conflicts that taken together produce thousands of more deaths annually.   In Canada 100,000 men and women serve in different roles through out the Canadian Forces.

As we gathered last weekend to remember past sacrifices I hope that we also considered the present and how privileged we are to live free of the violent struggles that continue to define the daily existence of many.


Just Posted

Soccer coaching clinic kicks off

A dozen children and their parents joined the British Columbia Soccer Coaching… Continue reading

High winds cut power, start fire in Burns Lake region

Strong winds on April 22 knocked out electricity supplies for almost 2,000… Continue reading

Repen: FOI data proves Telkwans being ripped off by ICBC

Former Telkwa mayor received a response from ICBC and says the results don’t look good for residents

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

Most Read