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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day

I prefer Armistice Day, which is what it was called when I was a child. We remembered that the Great War, the war to end all wars , was ended with an armistice signed in the 11th month, on the 11th day at the 11th hour in 1918.

On this day, we remember the sacrifice of all those who died in this war and subsequent wars: WWII, Korea and Peacekeeping Missions around the World. Currently, we remember the soldiers who have died as a result of our involvement in Afghanistan.

For most of us the central act of our rememberance is a two minute silence at 11:00 AM wearing our poppy, the symbol of this day which dates from WWI. There is, of course, the offical ceremony broadcast from Ottawa.

It is the most serious of demands that a country can make on its citizens, to risk one's life in a military conflict. Our leaders have a heavy responsibility to ask any of us to do this. They need always to be held account for their decisions.

A propaganda poster from WWI

As a form of remembrance on this day I like to read a little about one of the wars, it's history, people's lives and battles. I am particularly fascinated with WWI. It was an unimaginably dirty war where soldiers were expendible commodities.
This year with the Canadian film, Passchendaele,a dramatization, we are reminded of one of the nastiest campaigns. Canada, in its courageous effort lost 16,000 soldiers while making the difference in this battle. The Allies lost about 500,000 and the Germans 260,000 all for a very muddy part of Belgium , which once won was shortly after abandoned to the enemy. Many bodies were never recovered. Soldiers just fell in the mud and water, dead or to drown and then just to be trampled into the ground. It was calculated that in one square mile one million bombs were dropped. It is hard to imagine such a devastating casualty toll would be acceptable today. Of course, now technological warfare can devastate the enemy from a distance.
During WWI Canada had a population of about 8 million. 600,000 Canadians went off to the war in defense of the British Empire. Canada was still in many ways a British colony. For the first time Canadians fought together as the Canadian Corp within the British military. By WWII, Canada, as an independent country sent 1 million troops toward that war effort. While we are not a militarized society, Canadians have a proud military history of honourable and courageous service when called, "for God and country."
Below are some websites I spend much of the weekend reading. To further understand the First World war I recommend them to you, starting with The First World War. com. It is full of information. I was particularly interested in the poetry and songs of the time. They are interesting to read and listen to. The poster collection at McGill are works of popular art which tell us a lot about the period of time. Also, very interesting are the War Artists of the First World War. (Among there were three of the Canadian Group of Seven artists, Jackson, Lismer and Varley).
To go on and read about the life and times of an ordinary soldier read the blog assembled from the correspondence of The experience of a WWI British Soldier or visit the Oral Histories of the First World War.
War is so much more that battles and politics. it is about ordinary people, their lives and their times.Looking at these Internet resources can make the war and its era come alive , real to us. for a time so very long ago, worthy of remebrance.

An extensive source of information on WWI I particularly enjoyed the songs and poems of WWI

The Canadian film, "Passchendaele"


At 11:35 a.m., Blogger Janet said...

I have been very grateful for all those who have posted about the history of this day. I'm afraid we don't take nearly enough notice of it here in the states.

At 2:34 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Thanks Philip, this is the first year I haven't posted on rememberance Day but my thoughts are still with them.

At 5:46 p.m., Blogger Gretchen said...

Great post. Lots of information. I love learning something new every day.

I married a Marine, so I know all too well the sacrifices they make on a daily basis.

At 7:12 p.m., Blogger Mary said...

Remembrance Day is a time for remembering those who have gone before and sacrificed that we might live in freedom.

Though Canada was still a British Colony in WWII, we declared war on Germany independently when a German U-boat sunk a passenger ship.

My uncle landed at Dieppe and those men who used as sitting ducks by the English. My uncle was wounded but recovered. He remembered his entire life the squalor on that beach and his friend dying in his arms.

We need to remember every day of our lives the scarifices of these men and women. For if they hadn't sacrificed, what type of world would we live in today?


At 4:36 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Philip, I found this wonderful site that I thought you may enjoy looking at.
kind regards

At 10:36 a.m., Anonymous Mike said...

I sense both pride and sorrow in your remembrance of Canada's sacrifice through generations. I feel much the same as an American, regardless of whom we have as president. For all the loss of life in the present wars, there are countless more saved. And the seeds of democracy will grow. The sacrifice of our soldiers in this war is not in vain, even though all war is so senseless. I pray we grow together, and help each other more, instead of sowing blame.


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