Monday, 12 November 2012
November 12....and we still haven't forgotten them!
Yesterday, at the War Memorial in Collingwood, Ontario, at memorials in communities large and small, in Canadian Armed Forces establishments everywhere, across our great land, and around the world, it was November 11.
Yesterday, in such places of quiet rest for the fallen, and beside monuments to their sacrifice, we gathered in the old Act of Remembrance. We recite the old words, speak, sometimes, of old friends or forebears who, to our lasting benefit and their everlasting glory, served our country to the full.
We called with reasonable hope upon the Ancient of Days, that He will deal mercifully with their eternal souls. ‘Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.’ It is a simple truth. For indeed, ‘they shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.’ Yet, it is also a prayer that we may answer, for it lies within each one of us to remember the dead as they once were.
Canadians from across our great land, born of it or brought to it young and bold, drawn together by their willingness to serve their fellow citizens and so it has been for 200 years.
On this day, I recall a brave WW2 soldier whose name rests upon a wall to the left of the bugler on top of the WW1 monument at the War Memorial in Collingwood, Ontario. Trooper James Bolt, Canadian Army, 27th Canadian Armour Regiment of Collingwood, one of seven who were murdered after being taken prisoner just after D-Day on the orders of SS Brigadfueher Kurt Meyer in the enclosed gardens of Abbaye d'Ardenne, a walled assortment of medieval buildings, principally an early gothic church, one of only a few remaining in Europe.
As long as we faithfully tell their story to our children and praise their great deeds, the years, even great passages of time, will not condemn them. But more than that, it lies within us to do this. We can walk worthy of the lives that they laid down for us. By their deaths, they made possible the freedom we enjoy, the democracy by which we govern ourselves and the justice under which we live. These are the flowers that flourish upon their graves.
The Act of Remembrance that we performed yesterday in Collingwood, or wherever Canadians in uniform serve their country must therefore be something beyond a solemn reminder of dear ones lost. It must call all Canadians to look beyond our sorrow. It asks us to honour in our lives, at all times, what our forebears won by their deaths and to protect and preserve the peace they left us. There is no more that we can do for them than this. And there is nothing less that we should attempt.
‘At the going down of the sun today and tomorrow morning of a bright new day....we will never forget them.’