Saturday, November 11, 2006


Today, for my foreign readers unfamiliar with the Commonwealth tradition, is Remembrance Day. It marks the anniversay of Nov. 11, 1918, when the armistice ending World War I was signed. That war was so massive in its scale that the civilized world called it "The war to end all wars." Little did we know that the ending of that war and the punitive conditions imposed on Germany would lay the ground for a second war, more massive in scale and more hideous in its final examination.

Our Canadian soldiers have been over in Afghanistan for at least four years now, but this is the first Remembrance Day in which my thoughts have turned to our new veterans. When I think of a Canadian war veteran, immediately I picture an old man in a beret and a blue blazer, adorned with medals. Today a veteran of WWI, even if you found a man who lied about his age to enlist, would be over 100 years old. Our WWII vets are in their eighties and nineties.

For many years I've been concerned that, once we've lost our remaining vets, the purpose of Remembrance Day would fade into memory like the purpose of Victoria Day or Boxing Day. But this new generation of veterans from Afghanistan has its own memories of the dead to preserve. In a few decades we will have nobody left who was there in Europe to fight against facism. But our new vets will help us to remember that history, for they fight on the foundation their grandfathers laid.

Let us remember with them. Let us thank them for their willingness, for their obedience, for their sense of duty, and for their sacrifice. Let us pray that God will grant them unending peace.

Let us never forget.

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