Volume 93, Issue 41

Thursday, November 11, 1999


Remembrance relevant to students' lives

Religion holds a place in Remembrance Day

Religion holds a place in Remembrance Day

To the Editor:

Remembrance Day ceremonies can seem a curious, quaint mixture of national feeling, respect for the dead, Christian prayer and civic duty. In addition, the main events that are remembered are quickly fading into the past. The last World War took place 50 years ago and soon there will be no survivors of either World War still alive.

Some believe the ceremonies create admiration for those who killed other human beings and help perpetuate the sentiment that war is a good way of resolving problems. But we must remember 66,655 Canadians gave their lives during the First World War alone. Most of them would have been the age of today's university student.

Author Albert R. Young feels that Remembrance Day ceremonies are one way Canadians, especially after the First World War, tried to make sense of a world that appeared largely unchanged for the better in spite of the large number of dead. Perhaps we, like Young, can begin to see Remembrance Day ceremonies as ritualized mourning that provides comfort to relatives and soldiers who suffered great loss and to a country that has lost so many young people to war.

In that context, is it appropriate to offer Christian prayer?

In the First World War, Christian leaders joined politicians in idealizing the war effort and encouraging young people to join it. Such encouragement may have been understandable, but today it seems very misguided.

On the other hand, Christian clergy did go to war with the soldiers to serve as chaplains. Thus, it could be argued that clergy have earned a place at Remembrance Day events. More importantly, I think, the offering of prayer is especially necessary when we confront the most difficult situations in life.

In the case of Remembrance Day ceremonies, prayer can be a request, for support in the face of terrible losses or for a more hopeful future. It can acknowledge that we need a personal God who is powerful enough to help us make peace in a world prone to war and who is compassionate enough to respond to our prayers.

Mike Veenema
UWO Chaplain

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Copyright The Gazette 1999