Friday, 31 October 2014

Lest We Forget

With Remembrance Day less than two weeks away (November 11), it is sad to see a reminder of wars past – and present – impact our lives. On October 20 and 22, the Canadian sense of disengagement from the terrible events happening in the Middle East was shattered. Two men, possibly feeling justified by their extreme religious beliefs, each killed a defenceless Canadian soldier. The second murder in particular shocked Canadians, as the venue was Ottawa at the National War Memorial (with the drama finally ending at the physical location that is the heart of our Parliamentary system).

Canadians were stunned; these things just don’t happen in Canada. Acts committed in the name of religious extremism happen half way around the world – on television, newspapers and web pages. But in the span of 48 hours, our sense of isolation and feeling of apathy was irreparably changed. Canada lies in the shadow of our large and powerful neighbour to the south. The United States has all too often experienced the pain inflicted by zealots. For us, the world has become a much smaller place.

The monument is surrounded by flowers, flags, teddy bears, and written messages.
Today I was in Ottawa and felt the overwhelming urge to pay my respects at the National War Memorial. It was a moving experience to see the hundreds of flower bouquets surrounding the monument, and many dozens of spectators with anguished expressions on their faces staring at the scene of the crime in silence.  Our National War Memorial, largely irrelevant to the recent generations of Canadians, has regained its place in our national consciousness.

Ceremonial guards honour the memory of soldiers past and, sadly, present.

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