To my fellow Canadians, this is a familiar poem as it is recited annually on November 11th, Remembrance Day. Same to those in the commonwealth. Even to those outside of the countries involved in “The Great War” or WWI, this is a poem to remember if you take the time year after year to remember fallen soldiers who gave their lives for freedom, a cause greater than themselves.
In Flander’s Fields was written by Canadian officer, John McCrae on May 3rd, 1915 during the battle of Ypres. This is the poem that create the symbol of the poppy, as a reminder to people of just how great WWI was that we should avoid it again and again. Yet, as we know, there was WWII and countless others after that. Today, we still see a world embroiled in conflict and war.
Soldiers who fight in war sacrifice themselves
Whether or not you agree with why war happens, soldiers still sacrificed something — time, family, a “normal” life — to afford your safety and comfort in today’s society. Some soldiers are willing believers of the cause for which they fight. Some soldiers are simply doing their job in serving their country for a few years. Veterans are often forgotten by our society full of people who ignore the topic of war due to disagreeing with the reasons for war. Sure, on the surface, politicians offer their obligatory support, but in reality, they are abandoned and forgotten by the people they served, and asked to jump through ridiculous hoops to receive the recognition they deserve.
I, myself a veteran of the IDF, understand how incredibly difficult being a soldier can be. I remember coming back to Vancouver, which is truly a great place to live, and thinking that everyone is so spoiled and whiny, and do not understand at all what it means to be free. I remember thinking that they don’t realize what it can take to be able to sleep when you want, eat what you want and when you want, and call in sick when you want. These are all big deals. Soldiers do not have the luxury to do that.
I remember coming back to Vancouver, which is truly a great place to live, and thinking that everyone is so spoiled and whiny, and do not understand at all what it means to be free.
People truly do not understand that they are freer than they believe, and that ideas of lack of freedom are really self-imposed. In a country like Canada, despite increasing red tape, you can still do what you want. Perhaps there are consequences for people if they quit a job and find a new one, oversleep, or arrive late to a meeting, but these choices (yes, these are choices) don’t potentially cost other people’s lives.
So what does any of this have to do with remembrance?
I find that so many people do not truly understand the cost of serving in the military for men and women all over the world. People don’t realize the sacrifices others make to join any given military. It is a tough job, especially when in combat in which lives are literally put on the line.
Some years, I find it difficult to even find a place to get a poppy. It suggests that people truly don’t remember. I would like to ask you to read the poem In Flanders Field again and really take in the meaning. What is it like to be a soldier? What does it mean to have freedom? What does it mean to give up everything for someone else’s freedom? Maybe you don’t agree with war, but can you ask yourself: “Do I have the courage to take up a job in which I put my life on the line?”
What is it like to be a soldier? What does it mean to have freedom? What does it mean to give up everything for someone else’s freedom?
I often wonder if it would take another great war for people to truly remember. I truly hope not… Please read the poem and show your respect for those who serve and have served, regardless of whether or not they were in a war that you support.
Also, please wear your poppy, and have a moment of silence at 11:00am on the 11th day of the 11th month. No matter where or what you are doing, take the time and remember with me on November 11th.