Observing the day the First World War ended, and honoring the sacrifice of freedom’s heroes today.
On November 11th, ninety years ago today, the guns that began their unrelenting shattering of Europe in August of 1914 fell silent. The Great War –as it was first called- that claimed some 20 million lives, was over. Could the young men who fought on those muddy fields, where the names Vimy Ridge, Ypres, and the Somme live through history in a thousand monuments and in bronzed rolls of names, ever have imagined that, nearly a century later, their great, great-grandchildren would once more be fighting against tyranny and intolerance?
Much has changed in the world since 1918, but the willingness of the sons and daughters of democracy to serve when called has not. We remember their heroism and their sacrifice and that of their families who so many years ago, and still today, have been called upon to give in the ultimate sacrifice that freedom can demand.
We will remember them.
In 1917, the best a generation had to offer fought bravely to defend freedom and the ideal of a civilized society. In 2007, another generation serves that cause in a far off land. Time and again we have called upon young heroes who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. Time and again they answer that call. We are not always as fortunate in our choice of leaders who possess the vision and ability to avoid situations where such sacrifices become necessary.
We salute, as always, those who have served and fallen and those who serve today. But we think we honor them best by being true to the principles of freedom and democracy which require vigilance on the part of citizens as to whom they permit to lead them and the kind of qualities they ensure are brought to that great trust.
“Take these men for your example. Like them, remember that prosperity can be only for the free, that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.”
Observance of what in Canada is called “Remembrance Day” occurs every November 11th. It is a time of year that is set aside to remind those who benefit from freedom of the ultimate sacrifice of the many who made it possible. Their sacrifice continues even today in fields that lie on the other side of the world.
Nothing can ever be done, no matter how deeply the words may be chiseled into the most timeless rock, to adequately reflect the heroism of the countless young men and women who have answered the call to duty. Their sacrifice is also honoured by those who serve the cause of freedom in other ways. Though they wear no uniform and no badge of rank, ordinary citizens who hold those who exercise power to account for its proper use, who demand transparency and openness in the conduct of the public’s business and are intolerant of accusations that to question the over reach of government and the erosion of civil rights and personal privacy is unpatriotic, also do justice to that sacred trust. They, too, are the enemies of tyranny and the sentries of freedom.
There are battles to defend freedom around the world. There are also battles at home to preserve it.