The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (of Austria-Hungary) by The Black Hand secret military group (of Serbia) shook the world over a century ago. So much so that on July 28, 1914 war was declared. It was to be the war to end all wars. After years in battle, nations began to find their Allies and on November 11, 1918 at 11:00am the armistice took effect, which ended World War One.
Unfortunately, the wars didn’t actually end there. On September 1, 1939, World War 2 was declared when Germany invaded Poland. The war was long and bitter and when Nazi Germany’s war victims were finally liberated on September 2, 1945, the war finally came to an end.
Since then, the world has seen cold wars, civil wars, mass genocides and more.
We can tell our history in many ways. We can say that certain nations won the war or that war was declared for other reasons or on other days.
On the eleventh month, the eleventh day and at the eleventh hour, every year, we come together. We remember. WW1 was to be the war that ended all wars. Men, women and service animals gave their lives so that today, we wouldn’t have to.
In World War 2, men, women and service animals gave their lives so that today, we wouldn’t have to.
Today, men, women and service animals give their lives so that we don’t have to.
We may never have a war to end all wars. We may never fully learn to tolerate, love and respect our brothers and sisters across the planet but today the nations come together to remember. We come together to thank our veterans for giving us freedom. We thank them for standing on guard. We thank our vets for giving their lives and for serving our countries to protect our rights, our independence and our privileges.
So today, on November 11, 2016, ninety-eight years since the end of world war one, I made my way to Canada’s National War Memorial in the heart of Ottawa, Ontario (Canada’s Capital City) where so many others gathered.
Respect and honour. Love and hope. Sadness and pride. One can only be overcome with emotions as we remember all that has been given. November 11th is only one day. The cenotaph is only one place. War is happening now. War has happened everywhere. It is up to us to never forget.
Thank you can never be enough to those who have or are currently serving. What is enough is learning to tolerate, love and respect our brothers and sisters across the world. No matter the colour of our skin, the language we speak or the country we live in, we are all human. We must leave extremism behind. We must leaved hatred behind.
It is not enough to wear a poppy or to show up to a ceremony one day out of the year. The fight for freedom is not over. The bloodshed has not stopped. Yet, this is a battle that can be won without violence. It can be won with love. We must unite. Leave your judgements to higher powers, put your differences aside and remember that kindness doesn’t cost a thing. Remember that no one is better than you and no one is inferior to you.
Our rights come with responsibility. Our privileges can be easily taken away. It is thanks to our veterans that we are where we stand today. Let us always remember, never diminish and forever fight the good fight. Today and every day, lest we forget.