How can I express how I feel about November 11th without coming off like a complete ingrate. It's a day of mixed emotions for me. Part of me is loyal to my roots -- my Dad is extremely proud of his 35 years of military service, as am I. The Armed Forces rescued my Dad from a hopeless, loveless and poverty-stricken upbringing. The opportunities afforded by a military life is certainly what gave my sister and I most of what we have today. I am also incredibly grateful that my Dad did not see conflict overseas. I remember being terrified as a child during the Falkland Islands and also later hearing of how close Canada was to going to Vietnam. There's no question that my old man was ready to serve his country. Lucky for us, it never happened.
I also have tremendous respect for people who make it their livelihood to serve other people. The medical profession, enforcement, safety -- these are my heroes. It's clearly more than a pay cheque for them. They give WAY more than they receive. They are deserving of our respect.
And then there's the pacifist in me who has a really hard time honouring war. No one can argue about the death, destruction and debt that ensue and yet here we are being given a day off to 'remember'. There is no such thing as a noble cause. Why must we continue to force our beliefs and values on other cultures? What the fuck are we fighting for really? Money, pure and evil. I will not honour the military industrial complex. I just won't.
I feel sorry for the families of those who died in combat. They did not have a choice. But please, let's not put Afghanistan in the same boat. WWII was the last 'just' war -- our sovereignty was in eminent danger. Somehow by honouring world wars, the default has become 'homage to all combat'. I also make a distinction between inscription and voluntary service. If you choose to join the military then you choose to accept the risks that come with the job. It takes a brave person to put their life on the line for their beliefs, but let's not forget that they are the beliefs of the government and not necessarily those of its citizens.
Of course any criticism of the military that I express is perceived as treason. I wouldn't dare say any of this to my 'Support Our Troops' faring family. So I keep it to myself and every November 11th, I take a few quiet minutes to think about what the world would look like if we were all at peace -- peace with each other and most importantly, peace with ourselves. That's what I think we should be remembering. xx