Lest we forget, today is the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended The Great War (WWI). Today is known as Armistice Day in Europe, Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the US.
I have written extensively in the past on my feelings about the two world wars and my pilgrimage to Dieppe and Vimy Ridge in 2003.
We must never forget the sacrifice of our military men and women and those that supported them. In 1918 Canada had a population of around 7 million, yet she sent over 300,000 men to war and 64,000 Canadian soldiers did not return. A mind boggling number not even eclipsed by WWII.
Lest we forget that Russia in WWI and later the Soviet Union in WWII suffered incredible loss in the defense of their country.
And Lest We Forget that this day serves also to remember the sacrifice of German, Austro-Hungarian, Italian and Japanese who while in history will be seen as aggressors, suffered no less in a human way from the two wars and indeed history tells us that were it not for the sacrifice of millions of innocent Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki from nuclear war, the death toll could have been even more staggering.
We have just been through 8 years of what many could see as a return to war fighting. The attacks of September 11, 2001 instigated invading Afghanistan and a new policy from the Bush Administration to attack pre-emptively in order to defend itself. The invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq has dragged on… unprovoked strikes against terrorists in Pakistan, Syria, Oman, Somalia… torture of prisoners in Abu Graib and Guantanamo…
I believe some of the people in power have forgotten what today is about.
The Great War turned out to be only the beginning of what was the bloodiest century in human history. We have now embarked on a new century with more war making.
As if there is not enough expectation put upon one mans shoulders already, Barak Obama now as the opportunity to make a new start for this century by reversing the policy of his predecessor and embarking on a new vision that still addresses the challenges of the 21st Century, Islamic extremism, Climate Change, and fossil fuel Energy Depletion. All three can and already have caused conflict between and within nations. It will be up to Barak Obama, his counterparts and his successors to relearn the lessons of the 20th century and apply it to today so that 90 years from now we are not again wondering what went wrong.