Last year my Remembrance Day article was a book review on The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916 by Author Alistair Horne (http://www.ausu.org/voice/articles/articledisplay.php?ART=229). This year I had planned on reading another of Horne’s works to review for the Voice readers, but I have not had time for extracurricular reading since beginning the law school term. Consequently, I was wondering what to write about in recognition of Canada’s annual general holiday that is by far the most meaningful to me. As usual, an article subject presented itself to me just as I was seeking it out.
One of my fellow students read my review from last year and commented to me that he felt pulled in polar directions regarding Remembrance Day. His parents immigrated to Canada from one of the war-torn European countries that were occupied by the Germans in WWII. He had family members who fought in the war, some losing their lives in defence of their country. He understandably deplores war and sees it as the most base example of humanity’s inhumanity to man. He does not want to participate in a holiday that arguably celebrates or glorifies war; concurrently, he wants to honour all of those human beings that died in the many wars fought between nations.
I celebrate Remembrance Day introspectively. I have never lost a relative in any war (that I am aware of), and I have never experienced war first-hand – I hope that I never will. I deplore war while recognizing that it is necessary in certain instances. However, I also believe that the best way to prevent future conflict is to educate the people (especially our youth) regarding how horrendous war is. The adage that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is applicable to war and Remembrance Day. Aside from wearing a poppy, I try to contribute to the prevention of war by educating myself on its consequences, writing and talking about them, and keeping the remembrance of them alive. I suggest that our populace needs to be properly educated regarding violent conflict today more than at any time since WWII. With the vast majority of Canada’s world war veterans passed on, the duty to keep the memory and knowledge poignant now falls to our history teachers and to all of us as individuals.
I believe that Canadians respectfully mourn those that lost their lives in conflicts, and that Remembrance Day is not, in this country, a glorification or celebration of war. I hope never to see a day when Canada’s Remembrance Day is turned into a propagandist military recruiting program directed at our youth and I am confident that I won’t.
The photo that accompanies this article hangs in the main moot courtroom of the University of Saskatchewan of College of Law. It is a commemoration to the 206 alumni of the College of Law that fought in World War Two. Eight of those men died in the service of their country. The photo collage was put together by a WWII veteran and alumnus named Thomas P. Deis, LLB ’47. He can be seen in the photo at the center-bottom of the collage. I look at this commemorative art every time I am in that room and for me every day throughout the year is Remembrance Day.
Wayne E. Benedict has a varied career history and strong links to the Canadian labour movement. He is working part-time toward his Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations at AU, and is a fulltime first-year student of the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. For a more detailed writer bio, see The Voice writers’ feature page. Wayne can be reached at email@example.com