11 Comments

Ties in with the general sentiment I felt during my 14 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. This solider speaks plainly, accurately and correctly.

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Every now and then you read an article that seems written just for you, it so eloquently clarifies and expresses everything you've been thinking about a subject. From a (now) ex-soldier of twenty years, thank you, Tommy.

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Very good and needed. Be advised that many of the vets back to WW1 were cynical about it. My grandfather was also one of the few Canadian Boer War vets, as a teenager. Described it as "the British Empire stealing South Africa from the Dutch", pretty flatly. When my grandmother died, near where they retired in Kelowna, Dad asked him if she should be shipped to Lethbridge, where her family had a plot. He said, "No, there's Branders buried all over the world, wherever the British Empire threw another war, there's no point trying to gather us together now." They'd met in the War, she was a nurse.

Even then, most deaths in war were utterly random: artillery, modern bombs in the road, they're all statistical ways of killing. The heroic thing you do is volunteer to be anywhere in the vicinity, applies equally to all veterans.

These days I take both of their "Great War for Civilization" medals in my pocket every year, and walk 10 minutes to a spot behind the Aquarium in Stanley Park. There's a memorial there for the Nisei, the Japanese-Canadians who fought despite their relatives being in camps at the time. (More names from WW1 than WW2 because of that, but some from Korea, and one from Afghanistan.) It's a neighbourhood thing, with maybe a hundred people who want to be able to walk to it, and a few dozen dignitaries from the Japanese-Canadian community. The scale of it is really right, for me. (And the ceremony never exceeds 30 minutes.)

Last year, they just brought loudspeakers, and we spread out over more park.

There are smaller cenotaphs all around the country. If you live in a small town, the ceremony is automatically human-scale (and shorter). But even big cities often have more than one memorial, sometimes for special groups. The trick is to go to one with no official ceremony. The Calgary Cenotaph is often not where they hold the ceremony. I remember a group of people standing loosely around it one year, and a worried-looking soldier in dress was just setting up some flowers on it and called to us, "Ummm...there's no ceremony here, you know, it's up at the Auditorium this year." Some guy responded "feature, not a bug". Nobody left.

I avoid the military speeches. I don't consider it a military event. It's for the dead. Death releases one from all oaths, surely, so they must come home to us as civilians, once again. ("Veterans Day" should be the other 364. *Hire* them.)

The only meaningful listening one can do on Remembrance Day is to spend two minutes listening to the dead. They have only silence to offer us, of course; silence so loud it is deafening.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war". If we listen every year, maybe only they can tell us how to see it while we live.

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Well said. Thank you.

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sadly, the best articles come from people protected by anonymity

this is my way of saying: The honesty laid out here is refreshing

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Thank you so much for sharing and for your perspective. I encourage everyone to click on the attached links. The story of the RCL suing a group with actual veterans over use of the poppy was quite disheartening. There's been increasing talk of 'industrial capture'. It's sad to see that it can also happen to an organization like the RCL.

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Excellent article. Thank you.

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Amen.

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founding

Good commentary.

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That's excellent. Thanks!

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Actually, that's why I show up at Remembrance Day every year. The medals say "The Great War for Civilization", but they also called it "The War to End All Wars"...and THAT war is still going on.

I regard Remembrance Day as the biggest anti-war rally on Earth, observed in a thousand towns and cities. It is not for glorifying the military, but remembering the dead, which is surely the most anti-war thing anybody can do.

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