Thursday, November 7, 2013

Remembrance Day–Who Needs It Anymore?

War does not determine who is right - only who is left. - Bertrand Russell

The cold, cloud-filled skies of November are a reminder that Remembrance Day is upon us yet again.

And as I think about the memorial services that will take place around the world on November 11, I wonder why we even bother anymore.

After all, who cares about …..

  • The brave men and women who sacrificed their physical and mental wellbeing, their families and their lives to ensure the freedom of people they will never meet.
  • The gruelling, inhumane, mind-bending conditions that they endured, whether it was the mud-filled trenches, the lice-ridden clothing, the disease and pestilence, the sight of limbs blown off, the terror of being trapped in a burning ship or tank, the incessant thunder of artillery, the whine of a sniper’s bullet zinging by someone’s helmet or some other event that most of us wouldn’t have the courage to deal with.
  • A battle or war that may have physically lasted a few years but was relived in someone’s dreams and nightmares for the rest of their lives.
  • The families left to raise children with a single parent.
  • The families trying to help a mom, dad, brother, sister or child overcome physical disability or the equally crippling scourge of PTSD.
  • The millions of civilians maimed, orphaned, wounded, killed or traumatized by the battles all around them and the ordinance left behind, to be discovered by accident over the years.
  • Veterans who in later years have been abandoned by the governments whose call they answered but now barely survive on pensions that are an embarrassment.

So on Remembrance Day, when we think about the question “Who needs it anymore?”, the answer becomes clear.

We all do …. more than ever.

Our gratitude for those who serve should not be limited to a single day of the year.  Their sacrifice should be honored every day and be reflected every day in how we live our lives.

After all, this is why they serve – so that we are free to live lives of purpose, freedom and personal choice.

And so that, hopefully, the current war may be the last.

The veterans of WWI are all gone now but we still have many brave men and women around us who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cyprus and many other theaters of battle.

And as we stand freezing our butts off at a Remembrance Day service (if we even go) and we text a friend asking to meet up later for an uber-complicated latte while complaining that the kids won’t stop whining that they want to go home, remember this.

For many of our brave men and women, they didn’t endure such minor inconveniences from one day to the next.

For many, each day was hell and the day that followed was worse than the last.

They also couldn’t just walk away from it just because they felt like it.

And many, after enduring the worst conditions imaginable, were rewarded with death or permanent physical or mental wounds.

While we often choose many things to complain about in a world filled with abundance, most of us aren’t dealing with lice, typhoid, trench foot or PTSD, nor are we dodging exploding artillery shells, hiding from the threat of an unseen sniper, gasping for breath as poison gas tears our lungs out, jumping out of an aircraft in the dark as tracer bullets and AA fill the air around us, running across a beach while machine guns tear up the sand around us or swimming in frigid or shark-infested water while floating, burning fuel threatens to burn us alive.

May we never have to deal with the conditions and events that these brave men and women dealt with and continue to deal with.

Because that’s what they sacrificed and died for – so that someday we might finally live in a world where we won’t need to deal with these things anymore.

Wear a poppy to honor those who have served.

Find a veteran, look them in the eye and thank them.  Help one in need or make a donation to a charity in the name of a veteran; living, passed on or fallen.

We have what we have because they gave what they gave.

Lest we forget.

In service and servanthood,




  1. Harry, your blog brings me to tears today, and rightly it should. Remembrance Day is the day that moves me to think about "the frivolous" in my own day to day life, to allow my thoughts to reflect my respect for those who have served and families who were casualties, and to engage the characters of my own children toward the same. Let us never forget!

  2. Thank you for your kind sharing, Jayne.

    We have much to be grateful for when it comes to those who serve in our military ... and all first responders including police, fire, EMS and all those who give unselfishly for our health, safety and security.

    Create a great day.


  3. As any veteran knows, that lives through hell to live another day, we beg to our leaders that we do waste lives for the sake of politics, but we fight a just war. We ask ourselves, "I have I lived up to the expectations of those that have sacrificed so much?"

    This says it all to veterans of all nations:

  4. Thanks for your kindness, Kevin and thank you deeply for your service to your nation.

    Your YouTube link, where Tom Hanks says "earn this" to Private Ryan, always chokes me up.

    Create a great day!


  5. Beautiful post, Harry - eloquent as always!

  6. Thank you for your kindness, Lila. We have much to be grateful for .... I think we forget too easily sometimes.

    Create a great day.