“We speak glibly of sacrifice, but what do we know of sacrifice?” asked Herbert Sandham Graves in 1941. (submitted)

“We speak glibly of sacrifice, but what do we know of sacrifice?” asked Herbert Sandham Graves in 1941. (submitted)

Column T.W. Paterson: A veteran’s take on Remembrance Day 1941

“We pause for two minutes and we lay wreaths, but what are those in the balance?”

“They gave their lives, their all. We pause for two minutes and we lay wreaths, but what are those in the balance? Nothing!” —Sandham Graves.

Victorian Herbert Sandham Graves, like thousands of other young Canadian men, voluntarily enlisted to serve King and Country in September 1914, the first month of the First World War.

He did so not only willingly, but enthusiastically. His one regret, as he wrote in his memoir The Lost Diary, privately published that same year, was knowing that he’d probably never see his beloved dog again.

So Sandham Graves went to war, ultimately serving in France, Belgium and Palestine. Afterward, he became a journalist and editor of The Daily Colonist until his retirement in 1960.

Almost 20 years before, for Remembrance Day 1941, he’d written an editorial about the perils facing Canada and its Allies. He was no longer the callow, patriotic youth of 1914 but a middle-aged, world-weary veteran of that so-called war to end all wars. Now, again, for the second time in 25 years, the world was in conflict and, in 1941, just two years into the Second World War, the Axis powers were yet on the ascendancy.

For this war, Graves expresses not the heady patriotism of his youth but a sense of resignation that, for all the cost, the job begun in 1914 must be done again by a new generation; this time once and for all. By this time, too, he’s come to believe that the millions who served and gave their all in the Great War have been betrayed by governments and politicians.

Graves: “Remembrance Day, 1941. Perhaps there are easy words for it, but today I cannot find them.

I have just come from a memorial service where the dead in two wars were fresh in everyone’s mind.

There was a widow wearing the medals earned by her husband a quarter of a century ago. There was a veteran, his breast bright with decoration, for whom the memorial wreaths stood in place of a son killed in action only a few months ago.

There were rich men and poor men, standing side by side, who were wondering what was to be the portion of their sons.

Grim, serious and determined were the company, and grim, serious and determined must be our resolution this day.

We have remembered. It was Germany who forgot.

So, today, we must remember that there is a job of work to be redone, and that we had better get along with it.

We must remember that mad dogs are loose on the world, and that there will be no peace until they have been caged again.

We must remember that the free world has made its usual slow start, and that the wheels must be speeded up a good deal before they will match those of the aggressors. We must remember that this is every man’s job, each according to his capacity.

We must remember that it is the 11th hour that counts, and that we are, as yet, some distance from the 11th hour.

We must remember those who are now on the firing line, and see that they are properly supported. It will not do for us to forget.

They are a very gallant company, the men and women who marched out and who did not return.

We speak glibly of sacrifice, but what do we know of sacrifice?

They gave their lives, their all. We pause for two minutes and we lay wreaths, but what are those in the balance? Nothing!

Only deeds, not words, can serve now.

There is a job of work to be redone. It must be finished this time, completed, sheathed home.

That is the message of Remembrance Day. That is what we must remember.

It is up to us now. There is a world to be set free from slavery. There are mad dogs to cage. There are broken homes and broken hearts to mend.

There is something wrong with the world, and little right.

It is a challenge. It is our risk.

It is that which we must remember, today!”

So wrote Sandham Graves of Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, 1941.

www.twpaterson.com

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Not securing your load could cost you big

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read