By Emily Stonehouse
I’ve been sitting with this document open all week.
A Remembrance Day editorial. There should be lots to say. How we remember. How we honour the fallen soldiers who have bled out in the name of our country. How the folks from the local legions stand proud through sleet and slush and ice to hand out felted poppies to make sure no one forgets.
Remembrance Day is a celebration of stories; of looking back through time and seeing the young faces who truly believed they were doing the right thing. The women who knit socks and sent them overseas for years on end. The letters and trinkets and songs that were exchanged between friends and lovers; each one holding a sentimental value you can’t put a price on.
I can appreciate these stories; the souls behind each one and the human element that allows us to feel connected to the lives of the past.
But it’s hard to write about that, because it’s not over. While we pin the red poppies on our lapels and raise our glasses to those who have fallen, it’s easy to forget that the rage of war still screams from the corners of the world we don’t often look at.
As of this week, it is presumed that in the Palestine and Israel ongoing conflict, since Oct. 7, over 10,800 have died; most of them innocent civilians and children.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, there have been 27,149 civilian casualties. The conflict is ongoing as well.
Wars haven’t stopped because we’re not participating in them the same way. Every day around this globe, people die in the name of a war. Some war. Any war.
My kids have asked me why wars happen. What’s the purpose? What can be so big that it’s worth the price of a human life? And for that, I don’t have an answer for them. Sometimes it’s a deity, a belief, a calling. Other times, it’s financial. A bit of oil. A profit to be made. Often it’s just land. A few acres of ownership that apparently makes all the difference in the world. Like those parcels of property can be standing between despair and happiness.
Nearly always, it’s not your everyday Joe who declares war. The women and men of Haliburton County weren’t hankering for a conflict when they packed up their burlap sacks and left the quiet hamlet of our town on a wish and a prayer.
They were told they needed to go. Told it would make them heroes. Told they had to be brave. Told that to die would be an honour. Told by a person who they had never met, but chose to follow. A person who said they wanted the greater good, while they sat at their desks and unrolled maps with a side of Scotch.
The part I always find missing from those war stories, is the fear. No matter how hard I try, I can’t picture myself in those shoes. I can’t picture a world where my husband tells me he’s leaving, and knowing full well that means he likely won’t return. I can’t picture a world where my kids hide under their desks while war planes fly overhead. I can’t picture a world where my home and belongings are casualties of an invasion. I can’t picture a world where my family could be spread across the globe, and any fragment of certainty and security was beaten to a pulp.
But that’s still the world we live in.
We may not be seeing it every day. May not be directly impacted. But that fear, that hate, that anger, that confusion – it’s all still out there. Alive and well.
So as we celebrate these stories; the ones of our locals and our grandparents and our heritage, let us take a deep dive into the whys of war; who is really to blame, and why are we still letting it happen.
Because remembering the past can walk hand-in-hand with learning about our future. And that’s something no one should forget.