I have lived a long time so I can remember a long way back in time. I remember when Remembrance Day was called Armistice Day. I can remember when it wasn’t a holiday.
When in school, your place of business, on the radio, everyone everywhere stood with bowed head and observed a moment of silence.
We were remembering that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, two powers laid down their arms. Two forces promised to stop shooting one another, dropping bombs on one another, killing one another. They thought they had fought the war to end all wars. They thought they had achieved peace.
All that happened in 1918, nine years before I was born.
Nine years is not a very long time. For my parents, my grand-parents and my aunts and uncles, that war was very much alive. They knew people who had been killed, lost legs, were bombed and shell-shocked. So I listened to their stories and I stood by my desk and bowed my head at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in reverent silence.
And then, when I was only 13 years old, there we were at war again. As the years of war marched past, I began to notice that as my classmates graduated, they enlisted in the armed forces. They would come back to school in their sharp-looking uniforms with big smiles to tell us good-bye before they were shipped overseas.
I remember especially Walter Dewar in his beautiful Royal Canadian Airforce uniform, standing before my classroom to tell us good-bye. He was so young, so handsome, so gallant. A few months later, our PA system interrupted our class and our principal asked us to stand and bow our heads in memory of our class-mates overseas. We learned later that Walter had been shot down somewhere over Germany and was presumed dead.
Our veterans that came home from that war, like me, are getting older, but we remember them with honour and respect.
And still, war goes on and people are killed and the earth is scarred with bombs and poisons.
What can you and I do to bring peace? We can respect one another, treat one another kindly and reach out to one another until our reaching out circles the whole world.
And that really will be a day to Remember!