Categorized | Holidays & Occurrences

Remembering the Fallen, Protecting the Living

Posted on 11 November 2009 by .

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, Germany signed the Armistice, ending one of the deadliest conflicts ever that cost the lives of 15 million people, World War I.  What was to become Remembrance Day is observed throughout the British Commonwealth and dozens of other countries to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces as well as civilians in times of war.


On this day, we remember those who have fallen on the battlefields, whether on land, in the air or at sea.  Yet in honouring them, we acknowledge the importance of creating a more peaceful world, so that their deaths are not in vain – and that no one should ever have to die in war again.

Although World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars,” battles raged throughout the 20th century and took the lives of 85 million additional people.  “War is hell,” once wrote William Sherman, a Union General in the American Civil War.  What on earth could really be more catastrophic than people utilizing deadly weapons to kill other human beings on a massive scale? 

Not only does it destroy life and waste resources, it squanders the talents of young people who would rather be learning, creating, enjoying life with friends and family, and helping to create a better world in their own right.

As South Asians, it is especially important to remember those who are sometimes forgotten by history books and the mainstream media.  During World War II, for example – and despite Britain still refusing to grant India independence – millions of Indians and Pakistanis of all religious backgrounds joined the armed forces to fight the Empire of Japan.  Some of these veterans later moved to Canada to tell their story, yet far too little has been written of them.  Once again, this is not to celebrate war, but to remember those who fought and gave their lives against Fascism and tyranny.

Very seldom are wars waged by people.  They are almost always propagated by leaders to want to enhance their prestige and power and desire for more of the world resources.  Knowing this, it is important to create conditions that will make war unnecessary. 

This inevitably means creating societies throughout the world where children are taken care of, growing up in safe and loving environments, going to school, having a home to live in and a doctor to go to when their sick.  It means protecting the rights of girls and ensuring gender equality.  It also means giving young people the opportunity to live their dreams and succeed in whatever they want to in life, to ensure that when they turn 18 years old, they pick up a first-year university textbook and not a rifle.

On November 11th, we remember those who have given their lives in battle for the principles of freedom and democracy, but we also protect the living by helping to ensure that no one has to see the horrors of war ever again.



 Author: Bilaal Rajan

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