Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Remembrance Day Matters Even If You Hate War

I have met and talked with a lot of Veterans and service people over the years. Maybe that comes from growing up in Dartmouth. Halifax-Dartmouth has a long military history and so you can't help but see the many faces of the Canadian Forces.

No Veteran or current service person has ever told me how great war is. Yes, I've heard battlefield stories about comraderie, meeting wives, and the moments of joy that punctuated war and conflict. But none have ever said that war is a good thing.

In fact there are many Veterans who will not speak of the horrors of war and conflict. Most will tell you about how we must remember the past to help us avoid future conflicts.

Every day men and women answer the call of duty in the Canadian Forces to serve in places around the world. They answer the call of their country doing jobs many of us wouldn't be willing to do.

Veterans and service people have put their lives on the line in past world wars for many reasons but at least in part to defend the right of Canadians and others to be able to publicly state different opinions without fear of reprisal. Even different opinions on war, conflict, and the role of the military.

We must also never fail to remember that the role of the Canadian Forces is diverse. Our service men and women do all the obvious things a military does. But they also lead search and rescue efforts, provide humanitarian relief efforts in Canada and around the world, do work in fisheries monitoring and protection, and so many other things we so easily forget about.

The military is part of our community.

Peace and diplomacy must always be the first choice. There is nothing wrong with debates about the role of the Canadian Forces or what our role should be - if any - in conflicts around the world.
But this should not tarnish the memories of those who have died and those who on this very day serve around the world in the name of Canada.

Remembrance Day must be about remembering those who have served our country in honour and service on our behalf and the desire they have, like I hope we all have, for peace.