Before I begin today, given the time of year, I thought I'd pass along three selections of music entirely appropriate for tomorrow.
The first link has the Metis fiddler Sierra Noble giving an achingly beautiful performance of The Warrior's Lament at the Vimy Ridge Monument Re-Dedication in 2007.
The second is from the soundtrack for Passchendaele, a song called After The War by Sarah Slean.
And the last is a concert version of the majestic Hymn To The Fallen, by the great John Williams, for the Saving Private Ryan soundtrack.
Tomorrow, in places across the world, people will come together at cenotaphs and monuments at the eleventh hour for a yearly commemoration. November 11th carries with it several names. The British call it Armistice Day. The Americans call it Veteran's Day. And here in Canada and other Commonwealth affiliated nations, it carries the title Remembrance Day. Each year, a dwindling number of veterans of the Second World War march together with their comrades from later wars and service Each year, it seems, the crowds grow larger. And each year, more veterans pass away, joining those of their brethren who have gone on before them.
We mark the day to commemorate the ending of the First World War, of course, and the memory of the veterans who have fought in the wars that have followed. On November 11th, 1918, an armistice was signed that took effect at eleven in the morning, ending four years of bloody conflict that had taken the lives, seemingly, of an entire generation. It was a war that had saw massive casualties, trench warfare, and outdated tactics against machine guns and new weaponry at places like the Somme, Ypres, Passchendaele, Gallipoli, Amiens, Mons, and Vimy Ridge. For my country, it was the event that made the nation a reality, much like the Civil War truly forged the United States into one nation. Hundreds of thousands of young Canadians went off and fought in the Great War. Many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice and remained behind, buried in the fields of Europe.
|The Menin Gate|
Of course, the War to end all Wars wasn't the end. Out of the ashes came the circumstances of the Second World War. To borrow a phrase, though there is no such thing as a good war, there are wars that are nessecary wars, because the alternative is far worse. Never was this more true then in the struggle against Nazi Germany, Italy, Japan, and their allies. In battles that spread across the world, from Midway, Guam, Okinawa, and Hong Kong in the Pacific to the Battle of Britain, El Alamein, Sicily, Italy, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Normandy, and the final drive into Germany, it was the darkest hour humanity has ever faced. And in the end, the darkness was turned back, by the sacrifice, determination, and drive of what really is the greatest generation, young men who stood up to the greatest force of evil that has ever walked this planet, and brought it to an end.
|Juno Beach, Normandy|
|Juno Beach, June 1944|
|The USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor|
|World War Two Memorial, Washington|
|The Motherland, Volgograd, Russia|
|Plymouth Naval Memorial, Great Britain|
|Plymouth, Great Britain|
|National War Memorial, Ottawa|
Take time to reflect tomorrow. If you can get to a cenotaph, do so. Remind yourself that you owe your freedom to these men. Remember them, and how much they gave for us.
|Jefferson Barracks Cemetery, St. Louis|
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, England
I leave you then, with the eloquent words of John McCrae, a Canadian soldier who died during the Great War, but not before he penned these words for the ages, In Flanders Fields....