Lest We Forget
The pain, the mass suffering, and the economic strife of war are common occurrences in many parts of the world. In North America, we are lucky. War, for most of us, is a far-off event taking place in Bosnia or South Africa. Once in a while, we may see a news broadcast or an article in the paper and think "Hey, is that still going on?", but that is the extent of our awareness.
Thanks to the sacrifice of countless Canadian soldiers on the battlefield in World War I and World War II, not to mention the continuing efforts of our Peacekeepers, our country remains a relatively safe place to live. We have personal freedom, as well as freedom of religion, language, politics - all things that we take for granted, all of which could change in a flash if Canada was ever invaded.
Thankfully, our generation has been protected, so far. Canada has not been at war in our lifetime but how long can that last? For what length of time will our little bubble world remain aloft? History shows us that wars and revolutions come in cycles, and most historians agree that we are long overdue.
Of course, you have most likely heard all of this before. History teachers, parents, and other self-appointed "experts" quote facts at you all the time, that doesn't make it any more real. While the fuzzy recording of a lone trumpet being played at your annual Remembrance Day assembly may bring a tear to one or two sentimental students, does it really inspire peace? Probably not.
What is harder to answer, however, is exactly what would affect today's teenagers. After all, we're the T. generation, we live for unnecessary violence, again because it is not real. Figures such as "3108 blinded by gas attacks" and "30 million brutally slaughtered" mean nothing. They are numbers, period. Perhaps it would help to think of every single one of those numbers as a person; a living, breathing human being like your brother, your best friend, even you.
Remember, if you can, that those soldiers fought for what they believed in. They took up arms in the name of their country, the future, and you. Keep in mind when you view (for the hundredth time) those slides of war veterans and flying aces, that they were not invincible hero-types; they were scared young adults. You may see an astonishing number of similarities between the faces in those pictures, and the one you see in the mirror each morning.
Some of us, of course, will simply be unable to make these types of connections. The fantasy that most people carry of victory parades, glorious battles and patriotic warriors is difficult to match up with the reality of muddy trenches, political struggles, and dead children.
As the saying goes, time heals all wounds. In North America, our cuts have been so well mended, that we forget what hurt us in the first place. "Lest we forget" has become just another cliche to be cross-stitched onto pillows; today's youth show no interest in renewing the tradition. Quite simply, we have forgotten.