Remembrance Day

What do we feel on Remembrance Day?  Gratitude – primarily, sadness – definitely, respect- without doubt, anger – maybe, frustration – probably,  but does forgiveness enter into it at all?

This day has always held such meaning for me.  We were taught as young children to hold the men and women who served in our armed services with the utmost respect  and to honour their valor.

I grew up in East York, home to many war veterans, where they marched in every parade.  They were the highlight of the day and we waited to have a good reason to stand up and cheer as loudly as we could.   Now with our own children we attend the same parades and cheer just as loudly, if not louder as their numbers are dwindling.    It is important to revere them and thank them for our freedom.

I am proud to be the recipient of the terrible sacrifices these wonderful people made.  Young men and women, scared and lonely yet who still had the courage to face those fears and enter into battle never knowing how much it would benefit the rest of us.

I abhor war.  It seems so barbaric and unnecessary and I truly don’t understand in this day and age why some of the world is so enlightened and the rest is living in darkness.

But just as we are taught our values and beliefs as children and become very protective of them, so were those that are fighting against us.   They were all once innocent babies raised and indoctrinated in their own belief system.  We are as delusional to them as they are to us.

The parents of our fallen soldiers grieve their children, spouses grieve their partners and children their parents.

Loss is loss.  I feel Stefanie’s death as deeply as the loss felt by the mother of a fallen Canadian soldier and as profoundly as a mother whose son died by our hands.

If I remember correctly there was a scene at the end of the movie “We Are Soldiers” where the spouses of the dead soldiers were notified that they wouldn’t be coming home.  In a letter written by a Vietnamese soldier to his wife, he expressed his love, needs, desires, and dreams  – all so similar to our own.

I suspect anyone who has seen battle first hand might struggle to find any empathy for those who tried to kill them, and I can understand that.  But perhaps, when the rest of us are taking a moment of silence on Remembrance Day, as we give thanks we might also try to remember all the victims of war and look in our hearts to acknowledge their pain.

The world is getting smaller and smaller.  Enemies becomes allies and strangers becomes neighbours. If we can acknowledge the similarity in the pain we all feel and try to forgive (even slightly) it might just build a bridge for peace.

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