**Edited** It has come to my attention – repeatedly in fact, over the last few years, that some people do not believe that the Church should observe or pause for Remembrance Day. Some say it’s upsetting to refugees, others that it celebrates war, still others can’t see the relevance. The Church is a house of worship and prayer after all.
**Edited to add: my sincere apology to the person who was offended by the first intro to this post that I wrote.**
Should we compare Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, the genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, pick a contemporary atrocity — and dismiss the carnage of the first or second world war because one is more recent, more photographed? In World War I (the Great War, the war to end all wars) 17million people died. Between 59 – 80 million people died during WWII. Pol Pot killed 1.7 million. 800,000 to 1 million people died in the Rwandan genocide.
When you look in the eyes of someone who survived or lost a loved one in any of those conflicts, do the numbers directly correspond to their personal level of suffering, sacrifice, loss, grief, or devastation?
One of the first things you’re told (or at least I was) when you begin counselling is that you cannot compare your experience with what someone else endured or survived. That road leads to some dark places, because ultimately whether what happened to you on a horrible scale was a 1 or a 10 is irrelevant to the healing you need to do to overcome the effects of that experience.
**Pulls out soapbox.**
You should never compare one man’s loss or sacrifice in war to another and say one is irrelevant. Don’t think that because you weren’t alive to witness the conflict means those soldiers and families sacrificed less or had less to lose than those who survived recent wars.
Studying the Canadian contribution to the world wars was something I studied in university and it’s a topic I remain passionate about. I was never so much interested in the statistics, though those help frame the event and the loss, or the strategies though understanding leaders and movements and espionage and the like is vital to understanding the overall conflict.
Rather, my passion was the stories of the men and women who served in the great wars. The men who fought on Juno Beach (D-Day), at Dieppe, at Vimy Ridge, Ypres, Sommes, Passchendaele, and others. I had the absolute privilege of interviewing some veterans of WWII and the Korean War. Godly men who shed tears over events long past like they happened yesterday. I held an RAF aviator’s leather gloves, worn through around the thumb from the stick in the cockpit and heard the pride in that old man’s voice as he told me about flying a Mosquito bomber over France in 1945.
Across Facebook this week people have been posting pictures of family members who fought and some who died fighting in the great wars. The effect on their families was immeasurable not to mention those living in Europe during this conflict.
The hubs and I just watched Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. I’ve heard people complain about the visceral gore of that movie, but that is the reality of war. Perhaps if we were more aware of the grisly nature of the first or second world wars, the scale of the loss, the sacrifice, the devastation that broke men for decades, people would be less willing to dismiss their contribution.
Hear me out, I understand that refugees here in Canada have come from probably terrible circumstances (otherwise they wouldn’t be refugees). They have survived things they’ll never be able to forget. I’m in no way dismissing what they’ve endured or their suffering, but don’t tell me that means we shouldn’t remember the contribution of those who fought for the country that gave those refugees a safe place to flee to!
Every year, as I take that moment of silence and hear the trumpets play, I cry. What they did is worth remembering.
Dotted across this country, in virtually every village, town, and city are epitaphs and monuments to those who fought and died in WWI and WWII (and in some places the Korean War as well). The impact on those communities was felt over decades and generations. Don’t overlook or dismiss what their sacrifice accomplished and won for us just because they’re not here any longer to lay wreaths for those they lost.
Don’t tell me that I shouldn’t take a moment to remember those who fought and died for this country on Remembrance Day — whether I’m in church or anywhere else.
**Puts soapbox away**