Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War – the war that was to be the war to end all wars. That was not to be, however – since then another world war and many other terrible conflicts have taken tens of millions of lives.
The Canadian contribution has been immense, especially since Canada has a relatively small population, but a great sense of duty. Since Confederation Canada has taken part in many conflicts, small and large, as well as numerous peacekeeping operations.
Canada’s armed forces have fought and maintained peace with the highest level of honour, and in doing so thousands of our soldiers, both men and women, have given their lives.
From all of these conflicts, the sacrifices our noble armed forces have made should never and will never be forgotten. We pay our respects and offer our gratitude on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.
In the East End and Beach, we have put up memorials, scrolls, statues and other tributes in places of worship, schools, public buildings and cemeteries. These should always be treated with respect and kept in a good state of repair.
We have two memorials I wish to highlight. One is the memorial in Kew Gardens, and the other is in St. John’s Norway cemetery.
The Kew Gardens cenotaph is the largest in the Beach, and lists the names of those who served in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. Every year up to 2.500 people gather at the cenotaph to remember the fallen and those who still put their lives on the line.
In Afghanistan more t 130 soldiers have given their lives, others have lost limbs and eyesight, and some suffer mental and physical trauma.
Should these brave heroes not be recognized for doing their duty?
My answer is YES, resoundingly YES.
On our memorial in Kew Gardens there is room to note the fallen from many other conflicts and peacekeeping operations. There should be an effort to upgrade this memorial for these events, and I, for one, want to make this possible with your help.
A revelation came to me a little while ago, while I was walking through St. John’s Norway cemetery, where soldiers are buried. I looked through the graves and right away, John McCrae’s poem came to me – “Between the crosses, row on row,” and I saw those crosses in front of me.
Then another line of the poem came to me: “If ye break faith with us who die,” and I thought, we do have faith in you who died, and we will not forget.
This particular memorial is in the shape of what looks like a soldier, and on it are inscribed these words:
Designed and erected to the memory
of our departed comrades resting here by the members of
branches 1 – 42 – 93 – 2990 – 321 – 332
Comprising Zone D-6
Royal Canadian Legion
September – 1967
We shall remember them
On the anniversary of D-Day, there is a ceremony held here by members of the armed forces, their relatives and elected officials, but very few members of the public.
My ‘crusade’ is to make sure that the monuments – especially in Kew Gardens – should represent all conflicts and peace keeping efforts.
Some might mention a window in Malvern Collegiate to this effect – this is great, and should be commended. But ask yourselves, fellow Beachers: is this enough?
On Nov. 11 at Kew Gardens, take a look at the memorial, look at our great veterans, and ask: is this enough?
I invite your comments, ideas and anything you have to contribute. Please share them with your elected officials, emergency services, city staff, librarians, the Beach BIA, shopkeepers and everybody.