Canada bereft


War is not to be glorified and sought for, but remembered and avoided

On Remembrance Day, people all across this country stand solemnly, in a moment of silence, on the eleventh month, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh hour, and don poppies to commemorate the sacrifice of Canada’s veterans.

This holiday, although somber, is one of the most important because of the gravity of the events it remembers. To forget Canada’s veterans, and their sacrifice, would be a catastrophic error.

Yet, as you honour those who served, and serve, acknowledge that any further war gradually nullifies their sacrifice, for war is detrimental to humanity as a whole. To only honour veterans one day a year, and to turn around and support war, is hypocrisy. If we were truly to honour our veterans, we would embrace peaceful coexistence with all humans, because we all are humans, even though divided by lines on a map, by language, by religion, or by whatever other classification employed to divide us apart. 

Behold the statue at Vimy Ridge, Canada Bereft, and see the mournfulness in which it gazes downward with, for it is the heartache that this nation feels for its freedom, but also for its sacrifice.  It does not hold its head high to the skies in triumphant conquest, rather downcast in mourning. “Bereft” does not mean a hope of further military victories, but instead, being deprived of something.

To truly remember, and to truly commemorate these Canadians, we should abstain from war as a nation, and as a race. If this nation, and the world, continues fighting wars, then these brave soldiers’ sacrifice is forgotten, and the lessons their deaths gave us go unheeded.

The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day, but lately has become a political issue in Canada. Premier Pauline Marois recently put the fleur-de-lis inside of her poppy, and an uproar ensued. People complained that nothing should be worn inside the poppy, and that Canadian soldiers did not just fight for the Québécois, but all Canadians.

 Yet, would displaying a Saskatchewan Sheaf, honouring the various regiments that had their origin here, or a Canadian flag, raise this kind of controversy? No.

After Marois removed the symbol from her poppy, I began to notice around the hallways of the university that many people had various emblems inside of their poppies, yet no one asked them to remove the symbols, and leave the poppy as is. It seems that the fleur-de-lis was one of the taboo symbols that should not be put inside the poppy, and this is indicative of an anti-Québec sentiment, and may also allude to the tensions between English and French Canada during the world wars, specifically the conscription crises.

This minor political scuffle aside, Remembrance Day is fundamental, although it needs to widen its scope to prevent further wars by acknowledging the horror of armed conflict. Don’t forget, war can come upon any nation at any time, and although you may not be interested in war, war is interested in you. 

Michael Chmielewski

Photo courtesy

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