11 November 2005

Lest we forget

I'm the first to admit, I was an ass. As a child, we used to snicker and hate having to stand for those minutes of silence as we remembered our fallen to the World Wars. Albeit irreprehensible, we were naïve children in elemtentary school, it took Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan to truly open my eyes to the horrors of war. No other film has ever done such a phenomenal job of showing me what war is.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause and remember the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom and democracy during the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War and during peacekeeping missions.

This morning, as I drove to work, my thoughts stood still and I felt with a heavy heart. It may sound cheesy, but even playing Call of Duty 2 brings about semi-intense emotional reminders of the terror and panic of the War era that I experience now from thinking back.

To that, in my own way, I shall never neglect what I feel when I think back to all our forefathers that lost their lives, but rather I hold it close to me and maintain it in my memory so that it affects any decisions I may make and my opinions of war in general. Politics aside, they fought. For the freedom of others. For their loved ones. And because they had to. Lest we forget… Force is a weapon of the weak.

For more, please visit the CBC News Indepth: Remembrance Day or the coverage from Ottawa.
During the First World War, (1914-1918) more than 600,000 soldiers volunteered to go overseas. […] These soldiers fought in a series of costly and bloody battles and by the end of the war, more than 69,000 Canadian soldiers had died and 172,000 were wounded.

During the Second World War, (1939-45) more than one million men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in combat in the army, air force and navy. More than 47,000 men and women did not come home from that battle.

In Korea, 516 Canadian soldiers died during the 1950-53 conflict, in which 26,791 Canadians served. The battles of Hill 355 and Hill 187, among others, saw Canadians fighting in swamps and rice fields, through torrential rain and snow, in the air and at sea.

In 2003, Canada marked the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice by unveiling the Monument to Canadian Fallen at Confederation Park in Ottawa.

The words "WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU BRAVE SONS OF CANADA" are inscribed at the base of the monument, which also contains the names of all 516 Canadians who lost their lives in Korean War service or subsequent Korean peacekeeping service.

In 2004, Canada also remembered the 60th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, where Canadian troops suffered 18,444 casualties. Among them, 5021 were killed. Of all the divisions which formed part of the 21 Army Group, none suffered more casualties than the 3rd and 2nd Canadian.

It was a huge sacrifice – and a huge factor in turning the tide of the war against Hitler's Germany.

The first Remembrance Day, held in 1919 throughout the Commonwealth, was originally called Armistice Day. The day commemorated the end of the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

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