WEYBURN - Today’s generation, and those to follow, have been given a solemn charge, to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in war so that we might have peace.
But the charge goes further than that, if one reads the text of the famous poem, “In Flanders Fields”.
It is not enough to simply remember, according to the poet, John McCrae, who penned these words during the First World War.
He said, “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.”
In other words, we are charged to carry on the fight against tyranny and oppression, wherever it might be found. It’s not just in a Fascist state or under communism, it’s anywhere that vulnerable people are being oppressed by those with power and with money.
The Great War, when McCrae wrote these words, was supposedly “the war to end all wars”, because it was so horrific and so many people died.
That was not the case, of course, as the Second World War was even worse and more horrific.
Have we learned any lessons from these times of battle and death and destruction?
The many wars and conflicts since then would suggest we have not: the conflicts in Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Rwanda and Afghanistan all took place since the end of the Second World War, and now we have Ukraine embroiled in an invasion by Russia, with threats of more destruction and nuclear weapons being heard.
Thousands upon thousands of Ukrainians have fled their homeland, and many have come to Canada, even here to Weyburn and to communities throughout Saskatchewan. They have come seeking a peaceful life, a place they can live with their families and work, and not fear for their very lives every night and every morning.
Those of us who grew up in Canada know the peace and opportunity that is here, but we need to remember and not take it for granted. This peace came at a price, a horrific and bloody price, and the services to be held on Friday, November 11 are for the express purpose of remembering those who came before us.
Young men and women thought nothing of themselves, but signed up to go fight, and many thousands did not come home to their families and loved ones.
In Ukraine, there are thousands who have died defending that country, and thousands more continue to fight because they treasure their country and want it to remain in their control and not in Russia’s.
May we all take a moment on Nov. 11 to reflect on what we have, and may we all be deeply thankful.