EDITORIAL: Selective remembrance?

The common Remembrance Day phrase “Lest we forget” comes from the 120-year-old Rudyard Kipling poem Recessional. The Christian work uses the term — which is lifted from the Bible — to caution nations not to forget that the real source of their combat successes is God, without whom all their weaponry and training is useless.

In modern-day Canada, we understand the term as a caution not to forget the price paid by those who sacrificed to protect and preserve the liberties we now enjoy, lest we open the door to our own children and grandchildren being called to make such a sacrifice.

Overall, Canadians do a fine job of honouring and commemorating their fallen forebears from the “great” world conflicts of the 20th century. European soil is strewn with the distinctive white crosses that mark the graves of thousands whose lives were cut short in their prime.

Those who did return, their numbers dwindling before the inexorable march of time, are accorded places of honour and respect in our commemorations. Their stories are collected, recorded and shared with a sense of wonder at how life was lived — and lost — in a bygone era.

But does this sepia-toned nostalgia obscure the reality that Canadians continue to serve, often in harm’s way, even today?

Today’s edition of The NEWS contains a Remembrance Day section (beginning on page B5) with stories of two veterans who served in very different conflicts 65 years apart. William Cope of Errington, 97, fought in the Second World War. Justin Edwards, 32, fought in Afghanistan earlier this century and continues to serve as a military police officer at the Canadian Forces base in Nanoose Bay.

Both volunteered for duty at age 22. Both left behind pregnant wives. Both served aboard tanks. Both wore the rank of corporal.

But a great deal changed between their respective conflicts, both in the way war is fought and in the way it is perceived by those back home.

As Cope pointed out, the Second World War was “total war,” with rationing of everything from gasoline to sugar. Women had to fill jobs manufacturing war material as more than one million of Canada’s wartime population of fewer than 12 million people were serving in uniform by war’s end.

Those who did not have a family member directly involved in the conflict certainly had neighbours who were. The war informed every facet of life.

Soldiers such as Edwards can now go off and spend entire tours overseas without the country really noticing. Fortunately, we are not currently embroiled in a major conflict of the kind that dominated the lives of Cope and all other Canadians in 1942. But that doesn’t make Edwards and the other men and women of Canada’s armed services any less worthy of remembrance this Nov. 11.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

Just Posted

Christmas program creating tradition for PQB single mother and daughter

‘It just makes all the difference for your child to smile and laugh on Christmas morning’

Public hearing set for affordable housing development in Parksville

Council passes two bylaws, eyes 130 Shelly Rd. as affordable housing units for families

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

Solutions in sight for Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor shortage

With feasibility study funded, group shares vision of ‘campus of healthcare’

A very cheesy Christmas at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

Annual family Christmas event, this year with raclette hot off the melting wheel

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aims for clear signs of federal action on two-day Ottawa trip

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Firefighters called to burning motorhome on Nanaimo’s waterfront

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes blaze Monday afternoon on Esplanade and Irwin Street

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Most Read