As always, Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion. It’s one of remembering those that paid the ultimate sacrifice having given everything for love of country. Marking the hundredth anniversary of the ending of the ‘war that was to end all wars’, today is doubly in our thoughts. We reflect upon those young men who went off to a time and place from which they would never return. It makes one ponder the twists and turns of life and how events can unfold in such fateful ways.
It’s hard to imagine that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28th, 1914, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, would trigger a cataclysmic war. A war which culminated with the death of more than 16 million people. Surely, many young men from all over the world read the headlines and never gave it a second thought. And yet by early August, hundreds of thousands would find themselves in uniform preparing to go to war.
Life is such that nothing can ever be taken for granted. A hundred years has now passed since the end of that colossal tragedy that was World War I. But how many of us earnestly stop and think about the gravity of the situation these people found themselves in? Sitting comfortably on a sofa, I type this on my Dell laptop. With background music from an Apple IPod on a Bose speaker, it brings to mind how fortunate and lucky we are in this modern day world. I often wonder: do we realize it?
Do we realize when we complain about traffic, others were stuck in mud-filled, rat-infested trenches? Do we realize when we complain about food, others eat bully beef (canned corn beef) and turnip bread while whiffing the stench of death? And do we realize when we complain about flight delays, others endured non-stop shelling while witnessing body parts tearing asunder?
Stop the average person on the street and there’s probably a high percentage who couldn’t even tell you what World War I was, never-mind World War II. The ignorance upon which our modern-day society has become accustomed to becomes more astounding with each passing year. It makes one wonder what today’s students are learning in our so-called places of ‘higher-learning’?
To not know what has gone before is the biggest affront that we can pay to our history, and with that to our humanity. Our history is what makes us a people, and it’s our history without which we lose all sense of who we are (see History: The Identity of Life…).
Thank goodness for Remembrance Day! It not only serves as a solemn reminder of all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. It also brings to bear the debt of gratitude we owe to all those who have served and to those that still do. Our identity as a people and the noble traditions upon which our great country was founded are embodied in it. We can only be so thankful.
Lest we forget…
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