It took two soldiers to remember thousands more

by | Nov 14, 2014 | Opinion

Nick Jeannickjean-online
Managing Editor

It was a record-setting Remembrance Day this Tuesday last.

The Royal Canadian Legion sold a record 19 million poppies this year, a million more than last year, thus raising more money than ever before.

Massive crowds gathered at services hosted across the country. When covering our own ceremony in the Humber North campus concourse, I couldn’t have been more impressed by the number of my fellow Humberites who turned out.

I just wish it didn’t take the deaths of two of our own on home soil to get them to care.

The deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo are horrible, tragic events and I am in no way downplaying them here.

But why do the 158 who died in Afghanistan, 516 from Korea and the more than 100,000 Canadians from World War I and II not have the same draw?

Our men and women finally got out of the Afghani boondoggle earlier this year. The fact the country is barely better off now than when we arrived doesn’t make those 158 lives any less significant.

Although a longer time has passed since the death of the other 100,000-plus Canadians over the previous century doesn’t make their sacrifice any less important.

Three simple words – Lest We Forget – taken from the poem Recessional by Rudyard Kipling, were written to remind Britons of the sacrifice Christ made for humanity. The oath has since lost all religious connotation and been reimagined as a plea not to forget any sacrifice.

Yet so many of us seemed to have forgotten.

Have we forgotten those who died in the fields of Passchendaele and on the ridge at Vimy, the survivors now all passed on, blessedly, of natural causes? We should be remembering the end of The Great War that ended 100 years ago but we’re not.

Have we forgotten the Canadians at the front lines when over 60 million human souls perished worldwide in a conflict spanning four continents? We should be remembering the start of the biggest war the world has ever seen 75 years ago, but we aren’t.

Korea and Afghanistan have so much more quickly slipped from our collective memories.

Yet two soldiers died back home and all the memories came flooding back.

I can’t say I’m surprised.

It’s just unfortunate it took the deaths of two good men for us to remember the tens of thousands of others.

Lest we forget again.