Blood was spilled, mothers lost their sons and daughters, and children were robbed of their mommies and daddies.
This harsh reality of war is one we should all reflect on today.
Because today is Remembrance Day – a mass memorial for all of those who have fought and died for the freedoms that we now take for granted.
Some of us know their stories, a grandfather who served in the Second World War or great-great grandfather whose story was passed down from the First World War era.
While it would seem as though we as society would have smartened up to the evils of war by now, there are countless more stories from the troops who battled in the war in Afghanistan. After 157 of its soldiers were lost there, Canadian Forces have withdrawn from Afghanistan (or at least transitioned into other military activities). But the War on Terror continues.
Even when this war is done (if it ever is), unfortunately similar acts of violence will continue to plague our world as long as humans inhabit it.
There will always be people out there instigating conflict (I’m sure we can name a few small-scale social terrorists in our own lives).
So as much as the thought of war and violence disheartens, it is a reality. It does not make it right, just or moral, it just happens.
I will admit, I can’t stand the idea of someone parading around with a gun and picking off human beings like pop cans. No matter who they are, their blood will still shed and their family will still mourn.
But I also wholeheartedly appreciate all the efforts made to give me the freedoms that I now use daily.
I also wish that, as a younger girl, I had learned more from my own grandfather while he was still alive.
While he only served one year with the Canadian Air Force (of which I don’t think he even left the ground before a back injury forced his retirement), I recently discovered that his father served in the First World War.
I discovered this in old cigarette box full of medals, buttons and decorations.
I wish I knew the story behind it all – where he served, what his position was, what it was like, how it affected him.
It’s something I am working on digging up information on, but unless one of my aunts or uncles were told and can remember the details, I fear that his story is lost.
So I hope this will serve as a reminder to the loved ones of those who have served, lost or not, to listen to the stories, maybe even write them down, and never forget.
As we age, our memories start to blur and fade, so it easy to forget.
But just like the poppies that decorate our hearts, Lest We Forget.
Whether they died on the battlefields, or later of old age, we cannot let their deaths be in vain.
Veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion have been diligent, year after year, to pin remembrance on citizens through the poppy campaign.
Buying a poppy not only honours the memory of the war dead, but it helps the living and the dependents of those who have served our country.
Despite my own reservations about the act of war, I have to give credit to all the men and women who fought for their country. They fought for us and they fought for our children.
That’s something I will never forget!
—Jennifer Smith is a reporter for The Morning Star