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LOEWEN: Remembrance Day: This is the time for silence

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
November 11, 2015 - 9:56 AM

In over fifty years of life, I cannot recall ever having witnessed a week without war in the World.

War has been the geo-political wallpaper for us. First with the televising of the Vietnam War, all the way through the decades of the Cold War with nuclear annihilation a movie away, to the Final Countdown coming to a smartphone near you.

War is ubiquitous. It’s gone global and perpetual.

And yet I, along with most of the rest of my generation, have never been called upon to serve our country in a soldier’s role. Previous generations were not so fortunate.

For those of us born after the Second World War, war has been what we’ve observed, analyzed, protested against, feared, and yearned to see end. And yet it persists.

On Remembrance Day we remember our fellow-Canadians enlisted in our armed forces. And we remember those who have perished in their missions, and others wounded in so many ways who carry on as veterans.

For those of us who have never “been there,” it is difficult to imagine the psychological toll that war can take on its participants. But we can read about increasing numbers of returning veterans lost to suicide, and the news shakes us to the core. 

On Remembrance Day I am reminded how fragile we are. How, when we pass one another in the street, we can never know the personal hells that each have known. How, each of us are each other’s keepers. Inextricably bound.

On Remembrance Day I am reminded how much I deplore the barbarity of war-making, the senselessness of it for those most affected by it, the immorality of the economics that valorizes it. The temptation rises to angrily lash out at war’s perpetrators.

And yet the negative critique stands stilled on this day. For this is the day of the soldiers, known and unknown. For the many who died senseless deaths, young men and women consigned by the purple proclamations of politicians to their untimely ends.

This is the time for war’s abatement, this day.

This is the time for silence.

— Jeffrey Loewen is a Kelowna-based writer who plays music by day and politics by night

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