I was born in 1969, 24 years after the end of WW2, 16 years after Korea. It is my grandfather's generation who last went to war in Canada. Many people my age have no idea what Canada's contribution was. (I assume that I have more background than many simply because I have always been something of a history nut and so have read more.)
So what does it mean to people my age and younger to pause for a moment once a year? Do we truly understand any more? Somewhere in a box in my parent's basement I have (had?) some clippings from the campus newspaper when I was in 1st year university. The clippings are letters to the editor debating whether or not November 11 should be commemorated, the anti argument seeing it as a celebration of war.
It saddens me to think that we may be forgetting, that November 11 may be becoming just another ritual with little meaning to many. If we choose not to remember, if we choose not to tell people why we are remembering, then we not only dishonour those who sacrificed. We also forget how important it is to work towards "Never Again".
Whenever I preach on this day I use a story (self-written). I have two on file. One is the story of a veteran of Korea whose brother was killed on the beaches of Dieppe. That story tells of his journey through those conflicts and his work for the Legion helping children remember. It tells of his journey from simple remembering to working for peace, and of his own way of honouring his fallen friends. This year's story starts with a returned peacekeeper waking from a nightmare. Then we move to a discussion between her son and her grandfather, himself a veteran of WW2. The young boy tries to understand what this is all about, why his mom keeps waking up screaming. I find that the story mode helps these things be more real to all ages. The story conveys more than a "traditional"sermon ever can.
We do not celebrate this day. If we ever celebrate warfare than we have missed the point. Today is a commemoration, a day to honour the fallen and broken, a day to renew our commitment to a new way. This morning we read from Isaiah. "The wolf shall lie down with the lion...be a little child shall lead them...they shall not hurt or destroy on my holy mountain." May it be so, may it be so. Amen
Note, I am willing to share the two stories mentioned above with anyone who wants them. Just e-mail me at gUNDERSCOREwaldieATshawDOTca