What does it mean that we come today To Remember?
Yes, it’s to remind ourselves—to bring to mind, again:
Through the presence and stories of our veterans and the archival footage
we are re-minded that fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children answered the call of last resort
and in the process so many of them also gave the ultimate offering of their lives
to step into the breach of a broken peace.
And so, We Remember Them.
But really, we are re-minded of the fact of war daily, aren’t we?
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark [their] place”—
and so now we gather again on this Day of days,
after five score years and counting of nearly continuous conflict:
and the clash and clamour of war echoes once more on ancient fields,
threatening to still even the voices of the larks,
and the enemy of true peace—disparity—continues to lurk
among the blowing poppies and the row on row of markers
of those who paid the supreme price,
and continues to lurk through the grasses of the prairies
and amid the salal and cedars of these coasts
and on the sidewalks of our cities—
because, it was only eight years ago that Canadian soldiers
lost their lives here at home,
not because of grand global conflicts or ideologies,
but because of senseless violence that broke out
in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu and Parliament Hill.
So, perhaps being re-minded isn’t what is needed;
perhaps we are here to be re-mindful…
I really wonder if our work today and all days
is truly to re-Member—
to put back together—
to re-Member what is dismembered
when we allow Peace to be eroded so far
that we need to send our youth into the gaping maw of violence.
When we allow differences and disparity to fester unaddressed,
the violence that fills the broken Peace
transforms all manner of lives that once
“…lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved,”
into the dead that lie beneath markers, row on row,
and the truth is that each one’s loss is everyone’s loss,
regardless of which ‘side’ they were on,
since the human family is Family.
And so, let us not break faith with those who have died—
the Torch has indeed been passed to us—
not only to those who continue to put their own lives on the line in our Services,
but also to each and every one of us.
May we not falter, but spend our every breath in striving
to understand and to be understood,
never losing sight of the fact that each life is sacred—
that our lives belong to one another,
are our responsibility to safeguard and to raise up.
And perhaps one day the Dead may truly sleep
under the poppies in Flanders fields.
That day cannot come soon enough.