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Saturday, 2 August 2014
August 4, 1914.
Britain declares war, and Canada rises with her.

100 years ago today, Canada entered the First World War as a result of Britain's declaration of war against Germany. As a part of the Dominion, Canada had 'no choice' but to be at war and yet throughout the conflict nearly 650 000 Canadians served voluntarily (there was no conscription and prior to August 1914 the Canadian military numbered 3 110).
Canadians chose to serve, and nearly 60 000 lost their lives.

Many say that Canada became a true nation during the war years.
And there is no doubt that the legacy of both of the 'Great' Wars has shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.  Most Canadians in my generation can recall the names of those from their own families who served at home or overseas.  Our grandparents and great grandparents have wedding pictures with men in uniform, or in one case of a family I served in ministry, both parties in the wedding were in uniform! Our parents remember what it was like living with a parent, or close relative who had served and came home 'changed'.

It still amazes and humbles me today to meet these veterans and the civilians who immigrated from Europe, knowing what we know of the horrors of war, of the effects upon its participants and victims, victors and losers.  Knowing that they all picked up their lives and carried on having been scarred and broken, having done and seen things we cannot imagine. It has been my honour to meet, and know many of these people through my ministry.

There is no glory in war and it should not be glorified.
And as the Royal Canadian Legion remarks "we do not commemorate the start of conflicts", but 100 years later we must pause and remember.
We must acknowledge the way that the 20th century was shaped by war and the way its people, our people~ our families, our legacies, our values and principles~ were forged in such times.

In July, our local Legion prepared a service of remembrance in which candles were lit to honour the names of each person who died in service of King and Country.  Candle lighters included several World War 2 veterans.
The drone of the pipes, the names of the men and women~ names which are still carried by many of those who gathered~ the silence and the deep respect were moving.  It wasn't a moment of nationalism or politics or anything else except remembering good people who gave their lives for what they understood to be the greater good.

It is my hope that my daughter will remember.
As she looks at names carved in stone, and the words like 'Somme' and 'Dieppe' which will only enter her life as history lessons, I hope she will understand the real reason we remember..
because yesterday's Paschendale is today's Gaza...  and that people are living right now in the realities of war and good people are always needed to stand up and make a difference.
You can read more and find ideas about marking this anniversary at the Royal Canadian Legion.

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