At the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I ceased. Brothers, sons and husbands had been lost and those who survived and returned home where changed forever. PTSD was not something known back then, but everyone who lived with the men who returned and saw them struggle with sleeping, with the terrors and shaking that overtook them at times … they all knew that their husbands, brothers and sons had seen things and survived things that changed them forever- and it made living with them difficult.
By the time World War II ended in 1945, 120,000 Canadians had lost their lifes. Looking at the crosses and reading the dates on them, the young age of the soldiers has always stricken me and has made my heart constrict. So many of the fallen soldiers had been barely 18 years old – boys, really. My son Peter, when he was in his early 20s expressed the desire to visit “the beach were Canada landed on D-Day in WW2”. My dad and Peter drove there. They wandered the beach. They entered a 360 degree theatre. The movie? D-day landing with the sound level of the real landing. My dad, in his mid 70s at the time, had to leave the theatre. It was too overwhelming: the noise, the terror he saw, the loss of life. It also changed Peter. Playing war games on the video console was just not the same ‘fun’ any longer.
As we remember those who gave their life, I ask you to reflect on the following quote by G.K. Chesterton: “There never was a good war, or a bad peace. The tragedy of war is that it uses man's best to do man's worst. The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. The act of war is the last option of a democracy.”