Twenty-four times on the planet Earth, depending on your time zone, humanity is reminded about the 11th hour, 11th minute, 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate Remembrance Day. In pandemic times, commemoration happens virtually to protect the most vulnerable and minimize the spread of a new war global community is facing in 2020: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
Every human being on this planet is now affected by the pandemic in one way or another. The First and Second World War and the history of other wars, pandemics, and global human tragedies help us seek hope. When human beings work together, hope can be found. Wars end, pandemic disappears, wounds from human disasters heals, and the least each can do is to remember.
We need to get reminders as history can repeat itself. Today, many people, in addition to the global pandemic, are still fighting to protect their land, families, neighbours, and communities. Others leave their homes to find asylum/refuge in new places internally and outside of their home countries. Simultaneously, some people directly or indirectly supporting warfare by continuously colonizing human spaces worldwide, those who see the war as an opportunity to test new weapons, create more fear and insecurity on this planet and benefit financially from other human’s tragedies.
Let’s remember all those who fought for freedoms and protected others while often sacrificing their own lives. Here are some facts about global tragedies:
United Nations estimates that in the Second World War, 40 million civilians and 20 million soldiers died. The poppies in the table represent countries that lost the most people during the Second World War world ( Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, 2015)
Maclean’s remind us that the First World War was the deadliest conflict in Canadian history (~66000 deaths) followed by the Second World War (`47000) deaths. Spanish Flu took 50,000,000 lives (CDC data). More than 10 000 people died in Canada from COVID 19, while worldwide, the estimate is now 1.2 million deaths based on November 11 Google Data
Maclean’s also shared that about 60 per cent of the First World War records include the serviceman or woman’s age at death. “The youngest recorded age at death was 15, with 22 records of Canadians killed at that age. The oldest was 75, with just one record of a Canadian killed at that age. However, most Canadians killed were under 32, with a median age at death of 25” (para 4). 70% of COVID deaths in Canada are from the age group of 80+ (Government of Canada data). Many of those who died from COVID-19 had a personal experience growing up during the Second World War. Lest we forget and keep finding hope as we process the above facts.
Wearing a poppy is one of many ways to recognize Remembrance Day in Canada. Poppy is a symbol to remember those who have lost their lives in conflicts worldwide and represent individual’s and families’ contributions and the emergency services to stop warfare. The First World War ended on November 11, 1918, when Germany and the Allies signed the armistice at Compiègne, France.
There are many ways how one remembers. Here is some of them
1. Share: read poems or other creative writing about remembrance and share them with others
2. Care: listen to stories from war veterans and attend a Remembrance Day ceremony in your community
3. Love: Plant poppies, a tree or an entire garden of remembrance or find your unique way to remember.
While the reasons for conflict are numerous, there is one certainty—that the only way to build peace in this world is to care, love, and share our unique gifts. The connection among people can help us to make peace. Let’s safely keep building relationships, find ways to share resources, love, and care for one another.
Take a minute of silence and remember those who protect our land from war and work tirelessly to reduce human tragedies and loss of lives. Remember that during the terrible bloodshed of the second Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, wrote about poppies which lived on among the graves of dead soldiers:
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Listen to the Leonard Cohen recites the full version of the “In Flanders Fields”
A world where love, care and share are critical guiding principles of social work and social development,
A world where all people are treated as equals,
A world where respect for dignity and worth of every human being, social justice and service to humanity always prevail is still work in progress.
Peace is a work in progress.
Share your way to remember, and let’s keep building the world united in courage and peace, love, share, and care.
Lest We Forget!