This past weekend marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a conflict pitting mostly Canadian troops along with British soldiers against German troops.
A total of 170,000 Allied troops took part in the conflict. The inspiring memorial at Vimy, France is a true testament to the sacrifice Canadian soldiers made to ensure the ridge was won as well as recognize the names of soldiers who have no known grave.
So powerful was the battle that France ceded to Canada perpetual use of a portion of the land. It is a piece of Canada in Europe. Not only does Vimy remind us of the bravery of the soldiers who gave their lives to ensure our freedoms, it highlights the tragedy of war.
In the next few years there will be several important centennials marking important events from the First World War.
One would hope that after all this time the memorials, commemorations and testaments to the work of past Canadians, we would be able to really, truly learn.
Remembrance is vital to understanding, but there appears to be a movement underfoot that seems ready to stoke the flames of dissension. Politicians, religious leaders and pushers of “alternative facts” on all sides of the globe appear more willing to push those buttons rather than seeing peace as the ultimate goal.
Some so-called political leaders appear inclined to tow the party line — favouring party over citizens — pushing for the lowest common denominator. This shows that they haven’t actually learned from the atrocities of war.
We pay homage to these fallen soldiers so that we can learn and do better.
There are those on both sides of the globe that say a show of force against other countries is the answer. The thought appears to be that a strong, military response will put people in their place, making them meek as mice. But as we’ve seen from past world wars this does the exact opposite.
Regardless of people’s perception that countries are independent of the other, today’s global economy is exactly that: global.
We know from recent experience that a stock market crash in Asian markets will effect North America. We know that a housing market crash in the United States affects countries in Europe. We know that “Brexit” can affect the trades of goods and services.
The philosophy that “might is right” is an aged theory of bygone days that has no place in today’s environment. The world has changed.
If Vimy Ridge taught us anything it’s that sending our men and women into battle must be a last resort. Diplomacy, with the goal of a peaceful outcome, must become the new modus operandi otherwise we risk failing in our remembrance.
The rise of elitist or supremacist groups fighting for so-called racial purity only adds to fan the flame. People are becoming angrier than ever, looking for someone to blame for their troubles.
What most of these groups may not realize (or maybe they do) is that these are the same rallying cries that foreshadowed previous world wars. And yet, Vimy stands as a stark reminder to the brutality of one of the greatest wars this world has ever seen.
There are some who have taken to peace rather than conflict. One story that comes to mind is from the documentary Accidental Courtesy. This story follows the life of black musician Daryl Davis who befriends Ku Klux Klan members.
We’re talking high-ranking KKK leaders who eventually shed their cloaks in their journey of friendship with Davis. Somebody get this guy a job as peacemaker.
The lesson that can be learned from Davis’ actions is that there is hope of peaceful resolution. If he can speak with individuals so deeply involved in a racist way of life and turn them around, then so can world leaders.
Lest we forget.