As both a Veteran and a Member of Parliament my thoughts this week have been on the value of remembrance.
Veterans Week provides us with the opportunity to pay tribute to the more than 113,000 Canadians who died in service to this nation during the First World War and in the wars, conflicts and military missions that followed.
This year in particular, we are marking the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Hundred Days and the Armistice, the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, the 10th anniversary of National Peacekeepers’ Day, and the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Sicily and the beginning of the Italian Campaign in the Second World War.
In stark contrast, we have also been called upon to remember a less honourable time in Canadian history.
On November 7th, the Government of Canada apologized to the descendants of the passengers of the MS St. Louis, nine hundred German Jews, who, in the spring of 1939, sought refuge from a rising and brutal Nazi regime.
With motives rooted in anti-Semitism and nationalism, Canada turned its back to their plight and turned them away, guaranteeing that the men, women and children aboard would be among the many that died during the Holocaust.
It is a Canada we are hard pressed to recognize but an important chapter in our history we must not forget.
Remembering is of no value unless we act on what we have learned. As painful as the past has been, and as difficult as times may seem today, we owe it to ourselves to walk the path of our Veterans, to put others before self, to work for the greater good, and to reinforce the principles of tolerance, equality and compassion so their sacrifice was not in vain.
To commemorate the First World War Armistice and honour all those who have served, the Peace Tower bells in Ottawa will ring out on November 11, as will those in Mons, Belgium, the final town liberated during the First World War by the Canadian Corps. At nightfall that day, bells will also ring out in Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast as a way of remembering.
As we gather together at the cenotaphs in Kelowna-Lake Country on Sunday, let us see the value in remembrance and the power it has to preserve what we value most. History cannot be changed but in remembering it, we lessen our chances that we are condemned to repeat it.
Stephen Fuhr is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country