Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day - Nov 11th, 2009


Remembrance Day is celebrated every Nov 11th, since 1918. According to history, WWI ended when the last guns fall silent at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. That’s a long time ago. For me, I was not even born yet. Neither were my parents. In Canada, Remembrance Day is a public holiday. This week, Prince Charles and his wife is in Canada to be part of the occasion.

I was at Costco a few days ago when I saw an elderly gentleman carrying a coin box on one hand, and a wad of poppy pins on the other. I popped a toonie ($2) into the coinbox and obtained a poppy. Pinning it on my rainjacket, I felt appreciative of those who died in the war for the service of their countries. It does not have to be the people I know. Neither does it have to be the war dead from countries I have to like. A soldier is a soldier. They mainly execute orders from their superiors. Their only liability is to be a citizen of their country who ordered them into the battlefields. War is cruel. There are no true winners. The triumphant paid a high price for victory. So I wear my poppy with me. I want to remember the war dead. I want to show my solidarity for peace and for love in this world. I want to teach my kids not to take peace for granted.

I remember the horrible images of war shared by my grandparents during the Japanese occupation in South East Asia. Many civilians were killed. Families were separated and whole towns destroyed. Young men were automatically sorted into the useful and not. Children, women and the weak are disposed of in the most cruel fashion. War is horrible. It must never be repeated. Never ever. For me, Remembrance Day conjures the following sentiments:
  • War is evil; no matter the motive. It blatantly breaks God’s commandment not to kill.
  • We must pledge to avoid war absolutely. Continually built bridges of communications and understanding; The best way to prevent a war is to maintain dialogue;
  • War is not a simple ‘Good vs Evil.’ It is simply put, a struggle for power and territorial domination.
  • We must never forget that war is costly. It is not merely the weaponry, the tanks and bullets that are expensive. The scars of war ensure that the outlay of war are continually paid, even after the war.
  • Let our children, the next generation that assumes life as an entitlement, beware of complacency. Remembrance Day is not another holiday. It is a critical day to remind everybody, that war must never be the first option on the table. When all options are exhausted, relook at them over and over again, rather than resorting to taking up arms.
  • Looking forward, if there are to be any war in the future, it will probably be one where the soldier will not even know what or who killed them. The war of the future will be drastically different. Worse, if that happens, there might be no more opportunity to remember anything, or anyone.
History must never be allowed to repeat itself. Each remembrance day should pull us a step away from the path of war, and push us a step closer to the path of peace. I watched "Saving Private Ryan," and felt the words used by George C Marshall, in a letter to the mother of Private Ryan very touching.
I have here a very old letter, written to a Mrs. Bixby in Boston. "Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln.
" (Gen. George C. Marshall)

The following is the famous Remembrance Day tribute, “In Flanders Fields.”
In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing,
fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset grow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch;
be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Dec 8, 1915 John McCrae

Together with all who want world peace, I remember.


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