For Remembrance Day from Jim Mauro

A time for remembrance
By Jim Mauro, for

With Remembrance Day approaching I thought it was time to talk about one of my favourite singers, Bette Midler.

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Queen has been a wonderful talent for many years: her voice is at times magical, her various show talents amazing. One of her songs is called From a Distance, an inspiring song with a powerful message about hope for peace even during war. That song compelled this article.

“And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease, no hungry mouths to feed”: music both touching and deep with meaning. The messages that some songs contain offer such hope for mankind that you have to wonder why we have so much trouble getting along.

How many of you know Fred Oliver or James Elvish? You should because these two men from Thunder Bay were killed in the First and Second World Wars. We lost a part of Thunder Bay in these battles where country was pitted against country. Why, I wonder, are guns the way to solve conflict instead of words.

I hate guns, but words can also inflict damage, something I too often have been guilty of doing. But you survive words while too many have lost their lives in war, and the ever increasing sophisticated weapons which demonstrate that our ability to kill is limitless, our ability or willingness for peace not quite as profitable. Perhaps by talking more we can avoid war.

What exactly did Fred and James fight for?

Was it freedom or a sense of duty?

We will never know, but what we are sure of is that they experienced events we cannot even imagine. We are aware these things exist on our planet, but can they not be fixed so other young men and woman do not pay the same price as too many soldiers have.

Afghanistan is an on-going battle with Canada doing more than our share. Is it worth it? Is killing the Taliban or Al Qaeda worth the death this community has faced in losing our young men. I’m not sure, but many believe it is.

These soldiers are representing us, and while some may not agree with why, we cannot minimize the fact that they are representing this country. Canada wants peace not war, and some believe we need war to get peace. Let us hope they are right and let us hope that we find a better way so that no more have to die by fighting.

The Vietnam War was often debated or discussed on televisions shows of its time, including one of my favourites, All in the Family. We continue to discover that soldiers serving in Vietnam were treated horribly upon their return home shunned by the society that had asked them to go.

Similar reports are coming out about American soldiers not being cared for upon their return from Iraq or even a lack of resources for our own soldiers. It seems simple to me that those who serve should be treated with reverence for all that they have done in our name. But there must be a better way than war, don’t you think?

“From a distance you look like my friend, even though we are at war”. It is unlikely I need to explain the significance of those words as Ms. Midler begins the drive to the finish of her song, searching for that better way.

Can there be anything more significant than taking a moment to remember the sacrifice of those unknown young men and women who paid for our freedom with their lives? Do you think of them when you are complaining about the price of gas, or during your anger over your latest tax bill? Do you recognize that many in our community lost family in the last world war?

Do you think about our soldiers in Afghanistan as you sit down to a meal, or head out to your child’s sporting event?

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month seems such an insignificant tribute to those who have made our way of life possible. Whether we are reminded of the sacrifice in songs like Bette Midler’s or from shows like All in the Family, we must always remember those who fought and those who are fighting do so for us.

The word hero is thrown around in our culture so often it has lost some of its meaning, but these individuals are true heroes and we shall not forget them. On Nov. 11, please make sure you take that moment possibly even two and just remember. For our way of life, we owe them at least that.

Just a thought.

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