It’s time to remember, even during COVID

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Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier


Pontiac Perspective by Peter Gauthier

The twentieth century was one of great change, phenomenal technological advance, and unsurpassed accomplishments in all areas of arts, science, politics and human endeavour. Yet its most memorable events are the two world wars which nearly brought civilization to total destruction. Add to this the Korean War and the many local wars, and the twentieth century can easily be seen as the most belligerent, most destructive in human history.  Canada’s military and civilian people had a significant role in these events.
The First World War (1914 – 1918) claimed 40 million casualties, of which 56,638 were Canadian. The Second World War (1939 – 1945), considered the deadliest armed conflict in history, claimed the lives of 56 million people directly and another 26 million from war-related famine and diseases. Canadian lives lost to this war were approximately 42,000. The Korean War (1950 – 1953) claimed some three million people, mostly civilians.  This was Canada’s third-bloodiest overseas conflict taking the lives of 516 Canadians and wounding more than 1,200. Further, Canada has contributed armed forces to other conflicts and to United Nations peace-keeping operations. Although the twenty-first century has not yet seen a world war, Canadian forces have been engaged in many smaller operations and remain committed to military support for NATO and NORAD defence alliances.
Through all these conflicts and operations, our armed forced have contributed to the peace, freedom and benefit of the citizens of our country. Their actions, mostly on foreign soil, ensured Canada’s freedom and position in world affairs. Canadians remain grateful for the sacrifices of the men and women that have ensured our freedom and security since the foundation of our country.
We especially take note and recall these contributions to our society on November 11—Remembrance Day — as we partake in collective ceremonies across our nation. But this year will be different. The COVID pandemic threat requires that we not gather together, that we maintain a safe distance when outside, that we remain inside our limited “bubble”. So, gatherings and memorial events will have to be
curtailed. Official recognition for Remembrance Day will be limited.
However, this cannot be a reason to ignore the meaning of November 11. Indeed, it is a special occasion to recognize the sacrifices that have been made to protect our country and ensure our place in today’s world. If we cannot attend community ceremonies, let us at least pause for one minute at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, and in this silence be thankful for those who have given their lives for our nation.  We owe much to those who have defended Canada abroad and have sacrificed their lives to maintain an open society today and for future generations.
A pandemic, no matter how limiting in our physical activities, cannot be an excuse for not honouring those who sacrificed so much for our country.