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Remembering the Canadians who served in the First World War — the ‘war to end all wars’

Remembering the Canadians who served in the First World War — the ‘war to end all wars’
Canada
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Each Remembrance Day, we’re reminded of the sacrifices made by hundreds of thousands of Canadians in the major conflicts in our history.

The parade of veterans is a time-honoured tradition. In Ottawa and other communities across Canada, one year’s march looks very much like the previous year’s. But over time, this distinguished group changes. Veterans of more recent conflicts join in, while the ranks of older veterans thin out.

On the 11th day of the 11th month the veterans speak to us — in classrooms, in ceremonies, in interviews. It’s an extension of the duty they assumed when they joined Canada’s Armed Forces. They fought to protect this country, and after the fight was over, every year they tell the next generation what it was like, describing the truly harrowing nature of their experiences so that we might avert war in the future.

And it is our duty — those of us who were fortunate enough to live after the great wars of the 20th century — to listen. And learn. It would be a shame if we stopped remembering and learning the significance of those great wars just because the voices from those wars have been silenced.

The men and women of the First World War are all gone now; that war ended 101 years ago. They marched year after year for as long as they could, and they spoke to us about those things they couldn’t forget.

Clare Laking was an 18-year-old in Ontario when he joined the army over his father’s objections.

Many signed up as teenagers, looking for adventure. Clare Laking was an 18-year-old in Ontario when he joined the army over his father’s objections.

“I said to him, ‘I’m going to enlist,” Laking recalled. His father told him if he enlisted, he would have nothing to do with his son for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, Laking went off and never heard from his dad during the war, even after he had been wounded.
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