Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Lest we forget

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In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae

Remembrance Day has always meant a lot to the Martin family, as both of my parents lost beloved uncles in the Second World War. My father posted a nice remembrance of his uncle on his blog earlier this week. This is always one of the days of the year where I feel more than a pang of regret at not being in Canada sharing the importance of this day with my children as my parents did with me.

One of the ways that we remember, that we must remember, is to speak to younger generations about the story of these wars and of the great human sacrifice and cost that they involved. The Second World War, as I reminded my students yesterday, was the deadliest in history. While Canadians and Americans played key roles in that conflict and suffered a significant number of casualties (45, 300 Canadians and 416, 800 Americans died in battle), both of these countries got off easily compared to the suffering experienced in other parts of the world. Roughly 72 million people died in the war, 47 million of whom were civilian casualties. (stats from Wikipedia)

A survey released in Canada today showed that there are Canadians who have never heard of the Holocaust. It’s a relatively small, yet still shocking percentage, but this is part of history that everyone should know. For that matter, we also need to remind ourselves and our children of the devastation inflicted on millions of innocent people by the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of the unjust suffering our governments inflicted upon Canadians and Americans of Japanese descent during the war. The war was a time of great heroism and sacrifice, and also of barbarism and inhumanity of the worst kind. We must be sure not to forget that we are all capable of all of these things.

Remembrance, then, can and should have many sides. Today, we remember the heroism of the millions of people who gave their lives so that we can live in the relatively peaceful world we live in today. I hope, though, we also take some time to remember all of the others who died as well.