Anthony Furey: The Importance of Remembrance Day

Anthony Furey: The Importance of Remembrance Day
A member of the RCMP stands at the National War Memorial during a Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 11, 2009. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Anthony Furey

There are many reasons why it’s important to observe Remembrance Day in Canada. Some of it is historical. Some of it is about what is happening on our streets right now. The reasons to observe November 11 keep growing.

For starters, the number of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members lost in the line of duty is an ongoing tally. There are new soldiers regularly added to the sombre list of those who are owed our respects.

On June 20 of this year, two names were added to the official tally of soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty, in the service of our country. This was the day when Capt. Marc Larouche and Capt, David Domagala died in a Chinook helicopter accident. We owe them and their families a moment of silence.

Then there are the immense losses of the two world wars, conflicts that cannot be forgotten no matter how many years elapse. We lost 68,000 people in World War I and 47,000 in World War II.

In more recent conflicts, 516 Canadian soldiers died in Korea and 158 were lost in Afghanistan.

We must also contend with how there are fewer surviving veterans of these conflicts with every passing year. We must listen closely to what they have to tell so we can pass it on to future generations.

We must always honour the ultimate sacrifice made by those who died for our freedoms. This in turn means that we must also reflect on the very fact that people did die for our freedoms—that those who came before us believed there were things worth taking a stand for and worth fighting for.

But it’s troubling that our culture has adopted a moral relativism that sees us less willing to agree on a set of shared freedoms. It gets worse by the year.

We currently have people throughout Canada defending the heinous actions of Hamas as matters of “resistance” to be applauded or rationalized. Yet this is a group that Canada designates as a terrorist organization, a group that has a hatred for Jews that echoes the same hatred from decades ago that led us to World War II.

Twenty years ago, Canada joined the war in Afghanistan to fight back against the Taliban in the war on terror. There were mass protests against the war in Iraq—which Canada did not enter—and even reservations about why we had to be in Afghanistan for so long. But those protests did not support the horrible 9/11 attacks or rationalize what the Taliban did.

Despite differences of opinion on international affairs, Canadians ultimately rallied behind their soldiers and recognized the sacrifice paid by those who died in that conflict. We still found unity. People lined the overpasses of the 401 in Ontario—the Highway of Heroes—when the bodies of deceased soldiers returned.

Would the same happen today? I hope so, but I fear it would not. I fear we no longer have a mutually agreed upon set of freedoms. A lot has changed in the past 20 years.

It was troubling to learn that the CAF, in a fit of political correctness, thought it wise to try to ban prayer from Remembrance Day services. The idea was they wanted to be more inclusive. But if anything is going to involve matters of faith and spirituality, it would be a service where we honour the dead.

However, after news coverage and outcry from both the public and military chaplains, the CAF has back-pedalled and now softened what was at first a rigid directive. Remembrance Day is rightly viewed by many as a sacred affair.

This Remembrance Day we should not just reflect on the past. Let’s also reflect on the present. Are we doing justice to the legacy of those who fought and died for our freedoms? Are we squandering or taking for granted what we have built here in Canada? Are we failing to stand up for the values that have brought stability and prosperity to people of all backgrounds and all walks of life in recent decades?

Lest we forget.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.