June 6, 1944.
It’s a crucial date in the history of the world.
The Second World War had been dragging on and claiming lives since 1939, and while this wasn’t the end of the slaughter, it has been widely acknowledged as the turning point in the European theatre. On this day Allied troops landed along the coast of France, and began pushing inland, marching through and retaking territory the Germans and their confederates had seized since the fight began.
Casualties, while fewer than expected, were still immense, especially to those families back home who were unlucky enough to lose loved ones forever, cruelly close to war’s end.
The D-Day invasion, as it is known, is a subject that’s been tackled by Hollywood, and many more scholarly writers over the years. But we are losing our most valuable resource on the subject, as the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings approaches.
Most of those who fought on D-Day, in fact most of those who fought during the Second World War, have now died. Their first-hand accounts have often been lost to history with them. We must not let the lessons from those experiences go, too.
The First World War has been called “the war to end all wars”, due to an almost unfathomable loss of life. Casualties of the First World War number about 40 million in dead and wounded. Just because you didn’t die, remember, didn’t mean that your life wasn’t forever altered. Of course, we now know that the First World War didn’t end anything. Wars are still being instigated and fought around the globe, some dragging on and on for decades as factions attempt to claim more and more ragged pieces of bloody ground — sometimes over ideology, sometimes over resources, sometimes out of desperation.
We here in Canada are fortunate to live in the hard-won peace given to us by our Second World War veterans.
A third world war should be unthinkable. With our current level of technology, including atomic capabilities, such a conflict would likely wipe out civilization on earth as we know it, if not completely.
It’s not something that can be risked. It’s one of the major reasons we must continue to remember — the consequences are catastrophic, lest we forget.
We honour those who fought to curb and push back the Axis powers who sought to establish and expand a grotesque empire in Europe and beyond.
There are things that are worth fighting for, but we must go about fighting for them in new ways. Unfettered aggression will lead only to destruction.