Remembrance Day Struggles

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We must not forget

I have been trying to get my head around my feelings about Remembrance Day. I watched the ceremonies in Ottawa and across Canada and was deeply moved. I wondered if any of my children or grandchildren did so. I guessed they did not for any number of reasons. That prompted me to think about whether it would be appropriate to urge them to do so next November 11.  Even combined with the need to remember the  anniversary of Kristallnacht, ironically Nov 9-10, it is not an easy choice.  I am still a pacifist, or at least, anti-war. But most sensible people are against war. The notion of a ‘just’ one is tough to accept. That said, fighting the Nazis seemed the right thing to do, whereas fighting anyone in the so-called Great War, WWI, seemed entirely stupid and inhumane. As for Afghanistan and Iraq, the less said the better. The crux of the issue for me is how to justify urging my family to observe November 9-11 in some fashion, given my opposition to war. On the one hand, it seems wrong for them and the grandchildren not to pay some homage to those who fought, and especially those who were wounded or died, in a war so crazy as WW I. But perhaps seemingly ‘justified’ with regard to WWII. I am certainly convinced that paying tribute to those who fought against their will, because they were conscripted or in response to other pressures, is entirely reasonable.  Further,  I believe remembering the past is an essential part of living in the present and preparing for the future. On the other hand, I don’t want this argument to be seen as diminishing my conviction that virtually all wars are unacceptable. Nor do I want to glorify those who fought because they enjoyed fighting and killing. Perhaps the only way to reconcile my feelings is to conclude that my family should observe Remembrance Day events to prompt them to more closely examined their own feelings abut War. As civilized people they must understand history to the extent that it can be understood.

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