The Testament of Youth was a Vernon Film Society offering at the wonderful Towne Theatre and was a timely movie to see the week before Remembrance Day. It is a story that takes place during the First World War.
The story is of the coming of age of four young people, three men and a woman. The young woman is the author of the story. She is young, determined and passionate. There is her brother, and his two friends, one who becomes her love, and all the young men join the armed services and go to battle.
Interesting reflection in that she wanted to go to Oxford University and her father didn’t want to waste his money on an education when she was to get a husband. She did go to Oxford and that was 1915. This week our new prime minister formed a gender equal Cabinet, “because it is 2015.” Many struggles along the way to get there.
The movie trailer describes A Testament of Youth as “a story of young love, about the futility of war and how to make sense of the darkest times.” I won’t go into more detail here as I hope you will watch it if you get the opportunity to see the sides of war.
The First World War “was the war to end all wars.” Young men joined up, excited about the adventure, and then they went to war and the reality was horrible. On Nov. 11 we honour the end of that war, and many others since. Millions of men and women have died in battle. And still we have wars.
I believe we must remember and honour all those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy.
My parents, like many others in our community, experienced the Second World War. My father had a medical condition, a hole in his heart, which kept him out of the armed services and instead he worked in a factory and built fighter aircraft. An older brother of his was killed and friends he grew up with, such sadness in his eyes if and when he spoke of them.
My mother was in the Air Force and told us about life on the base. As a teenager I wore her Air Force jacket. She had some funny stories of being one of eight women on a base with hundreds of men so you had a date for breakfast, a different one at coffee, a fresh one for lunch and dinner! She had orders to go overseas but a few hours before she was to go they were changed. My mom came from a small town near Windsor, Ont. and nearly all her male child hood friends died. They were just boys, she would say. My mom had four sons and two daughters and many times she would say she was glad there was no war for us to go to.
Many Canadian young men and women in our Armed Forces still go to battle today; although I think the intention is often peacekeeping unfortunately many do die, others are wounded and left with the mental scars of war and what they experienced.
Whatever side you fight on, the grief is the same. Family of friends and foes grieve the death of their children, husbands, wives and friends; we all bleed the same.
I believe that there are millions who want peace and there are many that don’t. How much blood, how many lives, how much pain before another way will be found to resolve conflicts or will it just be one day one horrible bomb that destroys us all. War has changed so much over the years, but the constant of death and pain are always there.
“There must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations,There must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities,There must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, There must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, There must be peace in the heart. — Lao Tzu.
On Remembrance Day, wear a poppy, listen to the haunting sounds of the bagpipes and try to imagine the sacrifices so many have made so that here in our community we can live in peace. Watch the films, read the books, listen to the stories. Lest we forget.
Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.