Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taking Two Minutes

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
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Anonymous said...

What a great tribute ... I usually go downtown to participate at the national war memorial here in ottawa, but am unable to do so this year because of illness ... I will be watching the live broadcast on cbc though ... this set up my next couple of hours ... what a great tribute ... thank you William ...

2 dogs

sageweb said...

wow that video..made me sad..
nice post.

Sling said...

Nice post Wills..Bad enough that most of the soldiers that are killed or wounded are really just kids,but the collateral damages of non-combataants is especially sad.


sad ....

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for this post, dear! So sad, but good to watch.

Bev aka Aisha said...

Thanks Will. One note - it's not a peacekeeping mission. But it is a vital mission for a people who have been in conflict for over 30 years... They deserve a chance.

SubtleKnife said...

I've always meant to ask someone this. What is the etiquette around the wearing of poppies. They always just seem to appear (in my case mostly on the BBC, although there was a gentleman walking down the market square here in my hometown a couple of weeks ago) and I've never been able to pin down a rule as to the exact timing of when people start and when they stop wearing them.

Is there a specific number of days before and after Remembrance (Sun)Day?

I would guess that more people have heard about it than realise that they have:

Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout
A pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she's in a play
She is anyway

Willym said...

BakaA: As I recall the Liberal government at the time presented it as a Peace Keeping Mission to the public which is what I am referencing. For some reason several people have latched on to that one phrase as the point of the positng which it was not. This may well be because of my lack of writing skills but so be it. My point is that we remember!

SK: There is no rule that I know of - a few days around the 7th or 8th seems to be traditional but seldom have I seen it worn after the day itself. I have seen our Veterans wear them when visiting European War Cemeteries. The one rule is that it is worn on the left side nearest your heart.