‘War to end all wars’ did no such thing

A century ago, young men with families, friends, and dreams fought an opposing army made up of young men with families, friends, and dreams. On both sides orders to kill and capture the enemy trickled down their respective military chains of command, passing from the lily-white hands of the most powerful to the blood-stained hands of the most expendable.

In some sectors, during the 1914 Christmas truce, many French, British and German soldiers joined together to exchange gifts, sing carols and play soccer. The high commands on both sides quickly ordered an end to such fraternizing.

The awe-inspiring Canadian National Vimy Memorial stands as a lasting tribute to the gallantry, ingenuity, daring and sacrifice demonstrated by our four divisions of troops. The names of the 11,285 Canadians who died in France and had no known grave are carved into the base of the monument. Each year hundreds of thousands of people show their respect by visiting the Vimy Memorial. Many must shake their heads in disbelief while tears run down their cheeks.

Voltaire said, “One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.” If we could somehow speak to the spirits of the fallen, who among us would have the nerve to tell them that all their pain and suffering did not silence the drums of war?

Lloyd Atkins