Sunday, November 12, 2006

Remembrance Day

I thought up this post on Remembrance Day, yesterday, but was too sick to write it. I'm still sick, but not as sick, today. So I'm writing my Remembrance Day post today.
On CBC, they were talking about Remembrance Day. It always bothers me, how people talk about Remembrance Day. But what bothered me the most was how they were now including soldiers who died in Afghanistan in Remembrance Day.
Don't misunderstand - I think those people should not be forgotten. I've got a second cousin who recently came home from Afghanistan, and I spent some time with his mother right after one of his friends died. I saw him carrying the coffin. Remembrance isn't so much for the dead people, but for those who didn't die.
But they were talking about people 'giving their lives for our freedom', 'dying for our country'. Maybe that's true for the World Wars, but it isn't true for the war in Afghanistan. The truth is that the only way Afghanistan could possibly harm us in Canada, US or UK is with terrorism, and the war has, if anything, made it worse. War can't destroy an idea, or at least not very well.
Now we've got people in Afghanistan who have seen people killed by our soldiers. The terrorists will probably find recruiting easier since this war started, because many people in Afghanistan are angry at us. Remember that Afghanistan has been called 'the graveyard of emperors'. This is because they have resisted many outside powers who invaded them.
What we should remember, on Remembrance Day, is not the 'glory' and how 'noble' it was for these people to die for us. We should remember people in trenches with poison gas burning out their lungs, people going about their lives who were suddenly wiped out by a nucleur bomb, people with PTSD because of how awful being a soldier or a civillian in a war zone is, people who poured out of boats in large numbers and died in large numbers running across the beach. There is nothing glorious about war. It is a horrible thing. Sometimes, it is necessary, but we should never forget the people who suffered and died because of war.
My great-great-grandmother is buried in Flander's fields. She and her husband lived in a town near a lot of the fighting in Belgium. They were both very old and lived alone when the war started. They considered moving to escape the fighting, but my great-great-grandmother was too sick to travel. Then she died, and because it wasn't safe to be outside very long, she was buried in the basement. Then my great-great-grandfather fled the country to live with one of his sons. They went back after the war ended, but the place they used to live had become a cemetary. Somewhere in among the buried soldiers is my great-great-grandmother, an old woman who happened to live on the land they were fighting over.

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