10.11.09

Blast from the Past #5 - We've Already Forgotten

BFTP #5 - We've Already Forgotten
Type: editorial
For: Coquitlam Now editorials
Written: November 2007 (grade 12)

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61 years ago, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met at Yalta, on the coast of Ukraine. There, they discussed and argued and agreed, emerging from the conference with a new proclamation that effectively brought an end to World War II. 61 years ago, 42000 of this nation’s bold citizens died in combat or from wounds inflicted in combat, fighting together against an enemy who sought to rid the world of justice and diversity and impose its own maniacal agenda on free people. 61 years ago, Canada truly became a country proud of its soldiers, though sadly, the attitude came too late for many World War I veterans, who were neglected and abandoned after returning home from battle. 61 years later, we’ve completely forgotten.

When you read this, it’ll be Friday, and almost every single school across this fair land will be holding their own Remembrance Day assemblies. Students will be given a poppy, marched down to the gymnasium, and seated on the bleachers. There will be an honor guard of local cadets, maybe a speech or two, and a slideshow, and possibly a piper. And then a trumpet or bugle, usually played by a student, will belt out the “Last Post”, everyone will observe a moment of silence, and then the kids will return to their classes. The ones who skipped the assembly will come back from wherever they went, and life goes on.

Remembrance Day has lost its meaning in this country. I can’t speak for the adults, but for the children in the schools, it is no longer a thing of true remembrance and commemoration. Even those who have grandparents who were soldiers do not seem to realize the importance of this day. Instead, it has become just another stat holiday, much like Thanksgiving or Easter, except without the fat bird to grace the table. Remembrance Day does give us a cause to remember, but for the wrong reason. Instead of reminding us about the brave men and women who died so that we could live the way we do, it reminds us of the hard-learned fact that these days, society leaves them behind. The world works in a constant cycle of consuming and discarding, with no time for gratitude or even enjoyment. We take what we are given, and use it without appreciation. The sentiment that seems to prevail is that the wars were fought long ago, the freedom was won long ago, and the soldiers died long ago. Yet, does this give us cause to forget? If anything, it should give us more reason to remember. Life is a precious commodity; time doesn’t change that. Lives lost long ago should be just as cherished as lives lost yesterday.

The soldiers who are risking their lives to defend liberty right now in Afghanistan are no different. Some of them have died; that is the reality of war. And when they die, they make the front page on the newspapers, and the headlines at 6 o’clock. Their military funerals are broadcast straight to our televisions for the whole nation to witness, and their bodies are sent back to Canada for proper burials. We all watch, and we all say, “how sad,” and maybe some of us even shed a tear or two. But a week later, it’s over and done with. We’ve done our part; we’ve participated in the memory of the fallen.

I suppose I shouldn’t expect much else; after all, few of us were around when the last big war took place, so we only know what happened according to our history textbooks. But just imagining the pain, hurt, and absolute hell that our veterans went through to bring us peace assures me, without the slightest of doubts, that they deserve more than what we’re giving them right now.

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