So what does honour really mean? Canadians could determine that it means
caring for traumatized military and other citizens after the hell of
war. We could teach peace stories, peace strategies and peace
possibilities in all its manifestations: within, with nature, with
families, with communities and with the world. We could ensure that
children grow up with more stories about peace than of war. We could
elect governments that truly honour those who serve by giving them a
decent pension so that food, housing and psychiatric care are
We could support peace programs, such as the ones at McMaster University
in Hamilton and the University of Calgary. We could celebrate and get
to know young peace-builders, such as Canadians Craig and Marc
Kielburger who established "Free the Children," "We Day" and "Me to We."
We could celebrate — as the Calgary Peace Prize committee did in 2012 — brave peaceable people like former Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal. Through his unique African rap music, presentations and concerts, Jal works tirelessly to tell the story of child soldiers and of peace.
We could get to know authors whose books encourage new ways of thinking. There are many current ones, like Canadian Deborah Ellis who writes fiction and nonfiction for young adults. There are some surprising oldies available, too.
A.A. Milne, like John McCrae who wrote "In Flanders Fields," served in Europe during World War I. Milne is known for his Winnie the Pooh stories and poems, but Milne’s book, Peace with Honour, is different. Written in 1934, it is a plea for sanity:
“We know ... that, of the casualties of the last war, not all were killed on the battlefield; that hundreds and thousands died painfully of wounds – in bed; that hundreds of thousands died slowly of gas-poisoning or disease – in bed. Yet the sentimentalist, knowing this, still visualizes death in war as something which comes cleanly and swiftly and mercifully, leaving its victim no more time for awareness than is necessary for a last message to his mother.”
If we are to honour “those who served,” then I believe we need to do more than pin a little, floppy red poppy on our chests.
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