Today at 1100 we will put aside two minutes - two minutes to remember. Last year on this day I wrote about the red poppy that I and many Canadians wear at this time of year. And again this year I was asked by quite a few Italians what it meant. When I explained that it was "in memoria" of the soldiers who fought and died in wars there were always sad smiles of recognition, if not of the day, of the sentiment.
Until a few years ago our remembrance was of those lost or wounded (physically and spiritually) in past wars; sadly we are now remembering our dead of a current war. The death toll from our "Peace keeping" mission in Afghanistan has now reached 136 - 133 soldiers, 1 diplomat and 2 aid workers. The most recent was 24 year old Stephen Marshall who died on October 30 of this year.
Compared to the death tolls of other wars or even the number of casualties amongst some of our Allies in this current war it is a small figure but is entirely out of proportion to the number of our troops deployed there. It is not about numbers but about lives cut short and even one life cut short is one life too many. But the human destruction of war comes in many forms so even as we remember those who have died in war and particularly this war we should also remember those whose lives have been changed by war. The bodies and souls wounded and crippled by what they have seen, done and endured on the battlefield. These soldiers too must be remembered, helped and honoured.
There is much talk in Canada about this "war": justification from our leaders, platitudes from our politicians, condemnation from some, approval from others. But no matter what opinion is held it is my fervent hope that all Canadians will take that two minutes today to quietly reflect, honour and remember.
Inspired by an incident he saw in a Canadian Tire Store in Dartmouth Terry Kelly wrote this song:
"Lest We Forget" - in remembrance of all victims - soldiers, civilians, friends, foes - of war.
11 novembre - Remembrance Day