I have mixed feelings about Remembrance Day. On the one hand, my family members served in the Canadian military during WWI and WWII and I am truly grateful for the sacrifices that they and countless others like them made in their wartime efforts. I believe that veterans–like all people–deserve to be treated with respect and care. But on the other hand, I’ve become uncomfortable with the militarism of Canada’s current government, particularly when I continue to lean about government mandates to make Canadian museums reflect more on Canada’s military “glories” and the recent warning letter that was issued to Canadian Mennonite magazine as it shared its historical and theological pursuit of peace. I believe that being Christian is about being a people who pursue peace and justice in the world.
Yesterday I saw a small group of cadets practice marching and flag-bearing for today’s Remembrance Day ceremonies and I couldn’t help but think about the messages that Canadian society conveys to young people about war and violence. I admit that as I grew up, I saw the military as a noble pursuit and I learned more about the glories of war than the horrors of war. And as Canadian society becomes more militaristic, I worry about what we are teaching young generations about war, violence, and peace.
The Canadian government and society as whole seems to be wanting to spend more time remembering Canada’s involvement in war than it’s involvement in pursuing peace. We are not only a country of veterans, but also a nation of peacemakers. But this history of peacemaking is being drowned out by shouts of militarism.
On Remembrance Day, let’s honour our veterans and our peacemakers at home and abroad by remembering that we are called to seek peace and pursue it. Let’s teach children not only about Canada’s military history, but also about Canadian efforts for peace. Let’s remember not only the soldiers who made sacrifices, but also the countless civilians who suffered and died because of war. And as we teach children to remember, let us teach them to work for peace.