May 18th, 2024

Honouring our own war dead is priority

By Letter to the Editor on November 6, 2021.

I recently read a letter to the editor dated Nov. 4 with great interest and appreciation for the writer’s perspective. In this letter, the author observed that “We don’t talk much about those war dead who fought against us. We must remember them regardless of the sides of the conflict they were on.” But after reading the letter I must respectfully disagree with the writer’s perspective; we need not remember those who fought against us whose purpose was to defeat our allied forces fighting to keep Western Europe and the Asian Pacific theatre free. We didn’t start World War II, but our fathers and uncles were motivated to end it and sacrifice their lives, if necessary, to keep us strong and free.
On one of our trips to Southern Europe, my wife and I visited Vimy Ridge just outside of Aris, France. We were told we would need the better part of a day to appreciate the extend of this monument to fallen Canadians from World War I; so, we caught a local taxi early in the morning. The driver enquired as to whether we were Canadian or American and seemed more than delighted that we were Canadians. Canadians had saved and liberated his city in World War I and World War II. He would not take any money for the 20-minute ride out to Vimy Ridge; it was the least he could do to repay Canadians. This man even came back to pick us up some 5-6 hours later. Vimy Ridge was vast and carefully tended to by the French and Canadian students. The monument is enormous and beautiful beyond words. We saw other graveyards on the way back to Aris and when I asked about them, the driver admonished me by telling us those were the Germans, and they deserve no visitors as they came to conquer France and failed. He reminded us of the viciousness of the occupying German forces of the Third Reich (WWII) and their absolute disregard for humanity. Old enough to have remembered World War II, the taxi driver was resolute and drove on.
My family was deeply involved in both world wars. I had five uncles who fought in World War II and three of whom landed and survived Normandy and the remainder of the war. None of them would ever be the same persons they were before the war, but they contributed to the defeat of the Germans in the European theatre.
My mother lost three of six cousins in the Asian Pacific theatre to concentration camps and death marches. These are the sacrifices we should remember; young lives with promising futures who lay down their lives for freedom and liberty.
I know there were thousands of lives lost of both sides of these conflicts and I can appreciate their sense of loss was as profound as any family who lost sons in war. But let’s not forget who started these wars of tyranny and whose goal it was to conquer the world. It wasn’t Poland, Hungary, or Romania; nor was it France, the Netherlands, or Great Britain. We only stopped the conquest of Europe with the great sacrifice of our youth. Likewise, we only stopped the conquest of the Asian Pacific with the great sacrifice of our youth.
On November 11th we gather, pause, and remember the lives of all these men and women who gave their lives to ensure their country continues to thrive and be strong and free, and the peoples of Canada continue to breath the air of that freedom.
Therefore, I find it difficult to reconcile why we should also endeavour to remember those who died on the other side of these conflicts, those individuals trying to defeat us and take our freedom. What a different world we could live in today if these opposition forces had actually succeeded; the contemplation is the source of nightmares. Instead, let’s focus on the fact we indeed are free and the most profound words of Abraham Lincoln written to a grieving mother near the end of the American Civil War, and now inscribed on the cenotaph at the Punch Bowl War Memorial in Hawaii. Lincoln’s words should cause us all to reflect on the cost of our freedoms today:
“I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Merle Fuller

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I agree Merle we need to honor them all! And quickly before “Cancel Culture” gets them in their “cross hairs.”