I have to be completely honest.
After the Remembrance Day ceremony today in Ottawa, I came up to the War Monument and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and lay my poppy on the tomb.
On the side of the monument are the dates of the major wars in which Canada has taken part, including the war in Afghanistan as recently as 2014.
Remembrance Day means many things to different people. Some folks still actively serve, some know a friend or family member who served, and some even know someone who died. Emotions and discussion around it can be varied.
But I have to be honest. Here is how it affected me.
As I stood before the tomb, covered with poppies, replete with pageantry, surrounded by Instagrammers, photographers, but also veterans, and all sorts of people, I could only picture one thing.
Some poor soul dying alone in the dirt.
The reality of the dark side of all this is that this soldier, this civilian, died with no glory. Deaths from war happen far from parades, from flags flying, and from politician’s speeches. It happens around the world from the offices in which the decisions are made.
I walked away from the monument and I felt overcome with emotion. Normally I'm a pretty chill person. Today I was overcome with rage at the injustice that allows young men and women to be butchered in the same of politics, of racism, of 'good intentions'.
For me, Remembrance Day is far from the glory of war.
It is a funeral.
The act of remembrance is an act of acknowledging the horror of senseless death. Our men and women who serve and have served deserve the best. They deserve the best of support after they come home having served, many with PTSD, injured, maimed, if they come home at all. Civilians around the world deserve peace and the dignity of life. We all deserve a peaceful world.
I come away from this with a renewed determination to work towards peace. I will denounce the voices that call for conflict, who call for division and difference to be solved through bullets and blood. I support our military, the men and women who serve, and think they deserve not to be used as pawns by those with dark agendas.
I support civilians everywhere who fear the sound of jets overhead, of bombs, and who themselves seek refuge of conflict, repercussions of which come back to decisions we make in wealth and privilege, and at the ballot box.
I will remember those who died. I will remember those who called for their deaths.
Never forget. Never again.
- Josh Underhay of Charlottetown was recently in Ottawa with the Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy.