Civic gratitude guides our society, brings us together

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(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)

By: Candice Malcolm

It was called “the war to end all wars,” and even today, it’s difficult to grasp the rationale and various missteps that led to the great war of empires.

What we now call the First World War, 1914–1918, was an unthinkable catastrophe; unmatched in its bloodshed, it’s horror and calamity. It wasn’t just a war of nations, it was considered a war for all humanity. It was supposed to usher in a new era of peace and mutual understanding – a clean slate for Western civilization.

Instead, WWI took the lives of some 40 million civilians and soldiers — many of whom died in horrific conditions in trenches across Europe — and set the stage for an equally bloody conflict just two decades later.

The first half of the 20th century produced more wars, more death and more massacres, than any other period in human history.

Coupled with the willingness to send young men to die on the front lines, nations adopted evil governing ideologies — communism, fascism, national socialism — that tortured citizens and tried in vain to alter human nature.

There are so many lessons from this dark chapter in our history, and we’re given a day each year to remember this war, pay tribute to those who perished, and to show our gratitude and respect for the brave men and women in uniform who serve our country.

On Remembrance Day, we honour those who died to protect our freedom.

The soldiers who risked and sacrificed their own lives to promote freedom did eventually bring about a new era of peace, stability and wealth, the likes of which had never been experienced before.

Following what was an unimaginable low for mankind, the second half of the twentieth century was a period of tremendous growth and prosperity – particularly here in North America.

It’s often said that being born in Canada is like winning the lottery, well, living in the twenty-first century is like winning the bonus draw as well. We have the distinct privilege of living in the freest, richest, and safest part of the world, but also in the freest, richest and safest period in human history.

Nov. 11 marks the anniversary of the armistice that finally ended the First World War, but it’s come to represent the day we show our gratitude for all the many sacrifices made by those who came before us.

It is this civic gratitude that guides our society and pulls people together in their communities. We put our many differences aside and stand together, as proud Canadians, to lay wreaths, read poems and pay tribute to the fallen.

And we use this day to reflect upon our history and ensure that we don’t repeat the horrific events of our recent past.

When new waves of ideological hatred rear their ugly heads—socialism, populism, Islamism, nationalism—we should look to our history books and reject these poisonous ideas.

We should remember that young Canadian men have died all over the world fighting against this very evil, and sacrificing to protect and our way of life.

This year, on Remembrance Day, let us show our gratitude for this great country we call home, and for the unparalleled freedom and good fortune we enjoy. Let us...(READ MORE)