It is Remembrance Day in Canada. It coincides with the day the first world war ended. On this day, we pause to remember those who fought and lost their lives in the war.
Every year on this day, I think about all those people whom I never met, whom I will never meet, who gave up their lives to bring peace to people like me. There is so much in Canadian literature and film, and British literature/film for that matter, on war. It has left such an impression on people’s psyche that it almost never leaves their pondering. I try to imagine how life must have been during that time. It is probably the same in many other countries, but I don’t know their languages, and I cannot access the depth as well as I can in the English speaking world.
On this day, I also remember other aspects of war. As a child, I was fascinated by ‘war movies’. They seemed very exciting to me to the point that I had decided to become a fighter pilot; it was just one career option on the long list of choices which included fashion designer, astronaut, …, you name it. But this one, to this day, bothers me. The films made war look like something exciting, interesting. An almost always super handsome pilot flew higher and lower and dropped bombs which made huge sounds. They never showed where the bombs went, and what they did with people down there. That I learned as a teenager when a war happened in my homeland.
After the Iraqi invasion of Iran, I had a first hand experience of war. Perhaps not exactly first hand as I didn’t live in the frontiers. But I did experience the bombing of the cities when at night we turned off the lights, sat in darkness, and waited for the bombs to fall upon us. We never knew how many more days we had left. Homes were ruined, and people had to leave everything behind and seek refuge in other people’s homes, schools, or mosques.
And so many children who lost their parents, so many young men who never came back, so many mothers still waiting… This is the reality of war, and yet, it is shocking that it continues so forcefully almost at all times. What do we wish to gain from it? What can we gain from war? I remember an old Scottish song about a young soldier, and I cannot help about a distant relative who never came back from the war:
When I saw you last Sunday, so young and alive With the wind in your hair, and the stars in your eyes Now I am standing by your graveside, and ask myself why? Was it worth it young Willy Mcbride? …. The hell with tomorrow, we’ll live with the shame Its yesterday, over and over and over again. (quoted from memory)
Well, on this day, I hope that it will not be over and over again. That we learn and commit ourselves to end this mindless, horrid thing named war.