EDITORIAL: Remembrance Days are special, this one is unique

One hundred years ago today, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year, the armistice ending hostilities in World War I was signed.

That global conflict, in which 66,000 Canadian soldiers died, was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

But it was a vain hope.

During World War II, 47,000 Canadians died fighting for freedom.

Then 516 Canadians died fighting in the Korean War and 158 in the Afghanistan war, along with 130 Canadians who have died on peacekeeping missions around the world.

But these terrible losses were not the only ones exacted from these wars.

For in addition to these deaths, well over 200,000 Canadians were wounded in these conflicts — both in body, mind and spirit.

As much as members of our military served overseas in all of these conflicts, their families and friends served back at home.

Because they too had to cope with the terrible uncertainty of war and the possibility of the death or serious injury of their loves ones, which would change all their lives forever.

It’s why, today and every Remembrance Day for 100 years, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we hold memorial services and observe two minutes of silence across our country, to honour our war dead, and all those who served both at home and abroad.

We do so not to glorify war, for war is the most terrible of human endeavours that as a nation we should always strive to avoid, at all costs.

But there are moments in our history, too many, where blood is the price that freedom demands, and that Canadians have always been prepared to pay for the defence of their fellow citizens.

Our war veterans do not glorify war, for they know that war is hell on earth.

To the contrary, our war veterans, and there are fewer and fewer of them every year, are our greatest living ambassadors for peace.

All they ask, when we send them into global conflicts, is that we properly equip them for the job that needs to be done.

And that, whatever our personal views about war, we respect that it is their job to do what democratically elected governments in Canada have asked them to do, on behalf of all Canadians.

It is also not enough simply to remember our war dead, and all who served and serve in our military, for two minutes once every year.

We have a moral obligation, every day, to see that the members of our armed forces and their families — both past and present — are properly cared for, with decent pensions and medical benefits and other forms of real-world support.

That is both our obligation and our duty, and it is a responsibility that never ends.

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