Every year, year after year, Canadians come together on November 11 to remember the dead and the wars that killed them. And while we honour the bravery and commitment of the fallen with ceremonies, the act is not simply ceremonial. At its core, remembrance requires action. It carries the promise that we will learn from our mistakes, and that the dead didn’t die for nothing.
War is again roiling the world, and Canada is involved. The great arc of Islam—from North Africa to South Asia—is in turmoil, if not completely fracturing. Syria is emptying. Hundreds of thousands of innocents are dead, many millions are on the run.
This flood of humanity is a warning. Millions of canaries have broken out of the cage and are fleeing the coal mine. The last time Europe faced a refugee crisis of this scope was during the Second World War.
As we remember our fallen on November 11, we also remember that they fought for a better world, one free of the kind of evil that would inflict violence on masses of innocents. They sacrificed their lives in the hope that tyranny and genocide would end.
As a nation, we will never be free of the memory of those times when we did not heed the warning signs and act with commitment, with assurance that protecting the innocent is never wrong.
We have a responsibility to try to protect others from great evil. History has amply shown that if we don’t act, the consequences can be devastating. And the chaos there may eventually become chaos here.
Ours is a tolerant and open society. And we are aware of how difficult it will be to find solutions to problems like those currently facing the Middle East. But as tolerant as we are, we cannot agree to tolerate mass murder and chaos.
Just because there are no easy solutions doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions.
How do we respond? By remembering why Canadian soldiers once fought. In the wake of the two world wars, there was a consensus: never again.
It’s happening again.
In the wake of the two world
wars, there was a consensus:
In March 1916, a young politician stood up in the British House of Commons to debate the government’s priorities in the ongoing battle against Germany. “It is no use saying ‘We are doing our best,’” said Winston Churchill. “You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”
What is necessary? It’s time for our newly elected leaders to inspire a serious national debate, and for Canada to stay true to the principles for which the fallen once fought. When we pause to remember on November 11, this is our responsibility.