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A red poppy on a black and white field, alongside an older woman's hands holding an aging photo of a soldier in uniform

Why we remember 100 years later

Collective memory is key to our past and future

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row

This Remembrance Day marks 100 years since the end of World War One. This war was called many things, such as the Great War, or the war to end all wars. Of course, it did not end all wars.

It did, however, permanently change the course of history, and for Canada helped to create a new sense of national identity. Many historians believe that modern Canada’s sense of nationhood was born on the battlefield of Vimy Ridge and that the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 further defined us.
“Sometimes for the world to look forward we need to look back. Remembering the contributions and sacrifices of those who helped shape our communities is necessary and right.”
But 100 years later, why do we continue to remember the sacrifices made by another generation? We remember because the First World War was not the “war to end all wars.” World War Two, Korea, Bosnia, Afghanistan – these are just some of the conflicts where Canada chose to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and fight for our beliefs.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

There’s a saying that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Remembrance Day is largely associated with the two World Wars. With no veterans remaining from the First and a declining number from the Second, it’s important to memorialize their sacrifices, honour those who followed their example in succeeding conflicts, and learn from our history.

This year, Revera is honouring the sacrifices of all veterans at the Reel Youth Age Is More Film Gala at the Meadowlands Retirement Residence in Medicine Hat, Alberta. We will premiere nine short films made by local youth about 10 of our residents. The location of this event is important. During World War Two, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge were the sites of the largest Prisoner of War camps outside of Europe. Following the war, the captives went back to Germany, however, many returned to Canada to start a new life with their families. These nine films share our residents’ perspective on the War and their lives after it.

“Many of our residents and many Hatters are the descendants of Germans who left Europe following the war,” explains Rebecca Czember, the Executive Director at The Meadowlands. “They came here because they saw Canada as a land of opportunity and a place where they could raise their families in peace.”

Former enemies became neighbours and together they prospered. They were able to reconcile their pasts and forge a new path. “I think the story of Medicine Hat is a great example for today’s world and proves that people can come together for the common good if they want to,” says Czember.

Sometimes for the world to move forward we need to look back. Remembering the contributions and sacrifices of those who helped shape our communities is necessary and right. Our collective memory of those who served for the greater good gives us a moment to come together and be thankful for what we have, and also look to where we are going.

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We will remember them.