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

Taking bids for the Burns Lake community

Potential buyers attend the 50th Annual Rotary Auction at the Rotary Club… Continue reading

Bulkley-Nechako District gets new Chairperson, Board of Directors

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) on Nov. 15 elected a new… Continue reading

B.C. boosts 2018 wildfire recovery aid by $10 million

The British Columbia government has allocated an additional $10 million in support… Continue reading

Burns Lake marks 100 years since Armistice

Burns Lake residents on Nov. 11 held a Remembrance Day ceremony at… Continue reading

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

Quesnel fed up with detour, urges Ottawa to speed up road repair

West Fraser Road has been on detour since spring 2018, with no plans to repair washout until 2020

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Most Read