The First World War was well underway 100 years ago today. It began in July, 1914 and, in the early days, people thought it would be over by Christmas.
That caused young men, including many in Langley, to clamour to get overseas so they wouldn’t miss any of the action.
In fact, the war extended for four more years — ending on Nov. 11, 1918. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with more than nine million combatants killed, along with seven million civilians. It led directly to the Russian Revolution, severe inflation in Germany and the eventual rise to power of the Nazis, the ineffective League of Nations and ultimately to the Second World War.
Remembrance Day began as an effort to remember the horrific slaughter and the sacrifices made by soldiers, from Canada and many other countries, in that war. It has been observed here for many years. At one time, there was minimal participation by the public, but that has changed dramatically in the past 10 to 15 years, and this year’s events will likely be even bigger, given that the deaths of two Canadian soldiers in Canada last month are very fresh in many people’s minds.
The two World Wars, Korean War, peacekeeping missions, Persian Gulf War and Afghan conflict are all remembered at Remembrance Day ceremonies. Soldiers lost their lives in all of them.
A message from King George V to the families of each Canadian soldier killed in the First World War is worth quoting in its entirety:
“I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War.”
Let’s follow his example and remember the brave lives given on our behalf, as we stand with the families of soldiers and mark Remembrance Day.