Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada. Every country has one, a Dead Soldiers Day. Though we take it pretty seriously, actually.
Its something that most immigrants are really kind of surprised about, if they stumble into it. For all Canada's reputation as a peaceful place, and for all that we have a geographical situation where we only fight wars by choice, we actually have a pretty heavy military history. The Canadian contribution to both world wars was no joke at all.
We're kind of conflicted about the whole thing, mind you. So the ceremonies focus on the deaths, and on the great battles of sacrifice. Very little is said about the killing, though the Canadian Army had a rather good reputation in that respect. Anyway, we hear about Vimy Ridge in WWI, Juno Beach and sometimes Walcheren Island in WWII. We don't hear much about the liberation of the channel ports (brilliant operations with few casualties, so very little on-line presence of course), or the Falaise Road, or Ortona, or other places where the Canadian Army did amazing things.
I know about those places, and many others, because like my country, I have a dirty little secret that I am somewhat conflicted about. Here I am, a peace activist, I've lived in a war-zone, and in my job every day I see first hand the consequences of war. I fully understand, as best as a civilian can, what a nasty evil business war is. Yet I have this little hobby, I've had it since I was maybe 10. I am addicted to military history & theory. I belong a number of bulletin boards and discussion groups for those of us who share the interest, and an odd bunch we are, really, a lot of military guys of course, but I am by no means the odd duck out.
And what I know is this: WWII was a much nearer-run thing than popular history history lets on. And it would have been a much worse world indeed today, without the killing and dieing those young men did.
Anyway, I have my own personal connection. Here's to you, Uncle Allan.