Remembering that war is hell
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR OF THE TORONTO STAR
Original read here
November is a strange month. Amidst all of the moustaches and the hot-cold weather changes comes Remembrance Day. A day where we remember the lives lost in conflicts and wars, as we should.
However, somewhere some politician or public speaker will claim that these people died defending our freedoms. Perhaps, but wars aren’t really fought over abstracts such as freedoms and liberty. That is an oversimplification. Wars are fought over land, resources, riches, and the power to control.
So say prayers for the fallen and remember their sacrifices, but challenge your politicians about any of the several proxy wars and conflicts we and our allies seem to be perpetually mired in. Those battlegrounds are the homes of other people. Those dying are still dying.
Remembrance Day was supposed to mean that we decided to be better than this.
Harith Chaudhary, Maple
During the world wars my father was first medically unfit and later too old to fight. He kept watch as a fire warden in London. We were bombed out of two houses but knew our good fortune in having no immediate relatives die.
Yesterday I drove a refugee to work. In 2015 he, his wife, and several children finally made it here from Syria. Every day for seven days a week this man now works three jobs in succession before catching two hours sleep and starting again. His English was sufficient for me to also understand that each day he kisses the ground to thank Canada and Canadians for his family’s good fortune.
On Nov. 11 it is not enough to remember our own past. Refugees flee, if they can manage it, with nothing. For the price of 300 houses in Toronto we could save an entire transit camp from death and help at least some to find safe clean ground underfoot. They are us as we were them, once.
Peter Farncombe, Toronto
Donald Trump’s pending Clownoration by a largely white, antediluvian and globally myopic mob dramatically highlights the values commemorated by our own Remembrance Day.
There is genuine comfort in revering the sacrifice and commitment to a diverse democracy by our veterans; certain and proud that their legacy will endure well beyond the incipient demise of the U.S. as a failed nation state in the 21st century.
Chris McNaught, Ottawa
Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices that Canadians made in armed conflicts in both World Wars I and II to allow Canada to be the great country it is today. Although, formally on Nov. 11, 2016, we pay tribute to these sacrifices of Canadian soldiers for Canada, can we say that this is enough?
Everyday, when we wake up and are free to do as we please and live the great lives that we do here in Canada, how can we forget those great sacrifices made by those loyal soldiers?
As an Ahmadi Muslim, love for our homeland means a lot to us and in fact is apart of our faith. I find that those soldiers displayed this teaching of love of their homeland to the highest degree and I sincerely commend and thank them.
Saba Sadiq, Toronto
Every Nov. 11 the politicians gather and give thanks to our veterans and we have moments of silence to Never Forget. Then after Nov. 11 many will do just that – forget as life gets busy and we go about our lives.
What the public doesn’t see is the sad state of some Legion Village residences for our veterans where most live out their twilight years.
One I am very familiar with is The Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care. My mother was a resident there until her passing in 2010. The care was excellent.
Why do our veterans have to beg through donations for a new roof on their home? Why doesn’t Canada take better care of the veterans who we like to honour and remember each year on Nov. 11?
This residence is home to not only veterans but their spouses as well.
I drive by the residence on Lawson Road, Scarborough each day and see the sign on the front lawn “begging” my words for donations. This is where I want some of my tax dollars to go in support of our veterans.
Canada and our politicians can do better for our veterans and a new roof is a very small way of really saying “Thank You.” We Remember.
Jim Duncan, Toronto
On Remembrance Day, which honours men and women who died fighting for Canada, please give some thought to how you treat this incredible country. Don’t toss your garbage out on the street and don’t throw your butts on the sidewalks (if you smoke, that cigarette butt is your very own garbage). Please show some respect-people fought for you to live here so keep it clean, don’t litter and be responsible for your own garbage.
Cindy Cohanim, Toronto
Remembrance Day – a symbol of peace which commemorates the brave Canadian men and women who sacrificed their lives for a better tomorrow. At times of global unrest and injustice, as seen in the battle fields of Normandy, Vimy Ridge, and now recently in Syria and Iraq, Canadians are at the forefront of fighting for peace, and tolerance.
As a Canadian Muslim, at times I take the religious freedoms of this country for granted. In Pakistan, my fellow Ahmadi Muslims are regularly persecuted for their beliefs. To them, religious expression and fundamental human rights is only theory, that is void of any practical implications.
That is why on this remembrance day, during my moment of silence, I will be busy praying for the continued success of Canada, and will be grateful to the soldiers who had fallen to ensure our freedoms are never compromised.
Burhan Goraya, Newmarket
Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the sacrifices that young men and women have made, which safeguarded the freedoms that we enjoy today. Often times, it is portrayed that Muslims are against these very freedoms. The truth is that young Muslims like myself are taught from the very beginning that loyalty to your country is a fundamental aspect of being a Muslim.
The founder of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad has said that “Love of your Homeland is part of faith.” That’s the Islam that I’m familiar with, and it is part of the reason I have pride in our veterans this Remembrance Day.
Next time someone claims that Islam is incompatible with the West, share these teachings with them.
Anser Daud, Maple
I wish to thank all of the veterans of all of the conflicts this country has been in. Thank you for keeping this country safe and free and still trying to bring peace to others. An even bigger thank you to the men who manned the merchant ships who got the supplies to the fighting men in World War II. They had no means to defend themselves, but still went. Please remember those out there now. Two minutes a year of silence. Is that to much to ask?
Ivor Holtskog, Toronto
Can electoral system reform stop wars? On Remembrance Day many think of soldiers who have died. Some may also think of the men, women and children who as civilians form the larger number of war victims. ‘Never again’ is an appropriate watchword, yet what can we do to stop wars?
My suggestion is to promote democracy by electoral reform, because democracies don’t start wars. Were you asked if you wanted to invade Afghanistan, a country which has never attacked Canada? No. A natural gas pipeline or an opium crop in a foreign country could never be worth one Canadian life.
In a democracy you would be asked. At the moment we don’t have a real democracy.
Wars are started by governments deceiving the population, not by the consent of the governed. Wars profit bankers and oligarchs. Since 1867 Canada’s citizenry has been exploited by federal governments of the two-party system beholden to oligarchs and the banks. Since then, Canadians have endured a tag-team rotating dictatorship by the two ruling-class parties. Corruption has been going on at least since 1872 when Sir John A. Macdonald took his first bribe (that we know of) from Sir Hugh Allan in the Pacific Scandal.
Perhaps if Canadians had a proportional voting system, we could shed the two-party dictatorship and more closely approximate a democracy. We need some much better alternatives from which to chose at election time.
To paraphrase Jean Chretien, “There may be a new hood ornament on the geatway car, but it’s still the same old gang in the back.”
With the present two ruling parties citizens are never asked if they approve of going to war because they would say no. In a democracy you would have a say in such important matters.
Jack Judge, Kingston
A century ago Canada’s best, each one imbued with youthful zest, marched away on a desperate quest, which pinned this poppy on my chest. Huddling together in sodden trenches; hands aching from impulsive fist clenches; inhaling death’s unforgettable stenches: Canadians I never met, to whom I owe a debt, lest I forget.
Lloyd Atkins, Vernon, B.C.