Last night I was part of a conversation that included a side reference to observing remembrance day in church (since it actually falls on a Sunday.) Last two years we've reeled off names of Canadian soldiers who died that year for us to remember. I think there are possibly a number of other things to remember as well. Here's my list. I should mention that this has been heavily influenced by a coworker's impressions of a history of World War II -- a book that demonstrates conclusively to his mind, and I think that he's got a pretty good one, that there were no good guys in that war. So, the list.
Several categories of victims come to mind.
Let's start with those whom the military arrogantly call collateral damage. Innocent bystanders who die because of war. Simple. Remember them.
Then let's remember the homeless and orphans through war, and their suffering. Finally let's remember the children of the future who will simply have less through the wanton wastage of resources by the armies of the world.
Along with victims, I'd like to remember the courageous and faith-filled ones who refuse to bow to the god of war. They, just like the young Hebrew men in Daniel, believe that God is able to save his people without resorting to carnal force, and resolve that even if He doesn't, they will not sacrifice their consciences to their countries or the forces of culture around them. Some of these have suffered horribly for their righteous stand throughout the centuries. Read this.
Try the law of unintended consequences for example.
The fact is that war seldom accomplishes what it sets out to do. Every treaty contains the seeds of the next conflict. Every military ally has the possibility of becoming an enemy next. The evil Taliban of the present and the gallant, freedom fighting Mujahadeen of the past are, as I understand it, the same people. World War II, the popular no. 1 example of a just war, was a weird trade off where we took out Hitler by enabling Stalin.
Remember the adage that says that the first casualty of war is the truth. The implication is that people who believe the government's story about the state of the world and therefore enlist are perhaps not firstly heroes but dupes. Let us hope not. I have friends who have had military careers and they're not. But whole nations have been duped. No doubt about that.
Remember that today's generals march not into the front with their men. Soldiers who enlist as men are reduced to being someone else's pawns. Ugly but true.
Finally my choice for a remembrance day hymn.
The coda from Bruce Cockburn's It's Goin' Down Slow suits my mood for this Remembrance Day.
God, damn the hands of glory
That hold the bloody firebrand high
Close the book and end the story
Of how so many men have died
Let the world retain in memory
That mighty tongues tell mighty lies
And if mankind must have an enemy
Let it be his warlike pride
Let it be his warlike pride