Yesterday, at 11 am, as Canadians began the 2 minutes of silence to mark Remembrance Day, I found myself contemplating what it must have been like for all those at the front line when they learned that the war was over. I contemplated the members of the Medical Corps in particular. I could imagine them looking up, weary from their shifts of tending the wounded. I could sense the futility they must have felt in some cases, knowing that the young soldier in their care would likely die from wounds inflicted just hours earlier on the last day of the war. Can you not imagine them thinking,” What if we had known that peace was so close? How many lives could have been saved?’
I find Remembrance Day so moving. Watching the solemn parades of yesterday’s and today’s and tomorrow’s soldiers as they march toward the National War Memorial, I marvel at their resolute faces. Then I consider that their faces were just as resolute as they moved toward battle. So many were young – not even out of their teens. But despite their hopes for their own future, they considered yours and mine. The peace of their homeland was more important than their personal peace.
I know that those who are cynical will say that I am romanticizing the situation. They will say that young men and women left their homes for the adventure, to be away from home. They will remind me that military service “gave young people a good job.”
But I strongly disagree. I know young men and women, close to the age of 18, the same age as those who signed up to serve their country, to give you and me a peaceful and prosperous life. Young adults are some of the most idealistic people in the world and I believe that many went to war in 1914 only wanting to serve.
In fact, this past week, I asked many of the young people in my practice, in the clinics I serve, what they would have done in 1914. Their answer: They would have gone to war. Why?
Here is what they told me:
“To fight for peace.”
“So that my family will be safe.”
“It’s the right thing to do.”
Young adults in 1914 were no different. Do you had that much courage? And that much love?
(Photo credit: Toronto Star: I found this image in the Toronto Star and thought it was a fitting Canadian image.)