Sunday, 11 November 2012

War to End All Wars

Next of Kin monument, in front

of the Manitoba Legislature.

Photo taken by the Analyst.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 the "war to end all wars" ceased. Many people, including many Canadians and Manitobans, fought and died in that war. Men, like those soldiers in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, fought on the front-lines, experiencing the horrors and trials of war firsthand.  

Farm workers left the fields of Manitoba and enlisted to fight in the "war to end all wars". Jobless workers also flocked to serve their country in the army.  Women worked in the factories and as army nurses, with significant strides towards more rights - including attainment of the right to vote for  Manitoba women in 1916  and for women in all of Canada by 1918.

The hope and dreams for a world without any more wars were to be dashed. The next worldwide war, the devastating Second World War, would begin in twenty-one years with a remilitarized Germany's invasion of Poland. Dreams of a better world at home were more immediately crushed, with horrendous working and economic conditions in Winnipeg persisting for returning soldiers. The attitudes of our city's economic elites were not what the veterans had expected as thanks for their service.  

Photo of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

Image Source: Wikipedia
The Winnipeg General Strike began a year after the First World War, filled with many disappointed former soldiers. The Canadian Government of the day betrayed those who had served Canada valiantly with brutal suppression.

The veterans of the wars of Canada, be they from the World Wars, the Korean War, the War in Afghanistan, and countless others are important to remember. Not for mere sentimentality or due to an idealization of the "glory" of war, but as a way of remembering what the costs of war are. Over what bare minimum of decency and respect those who fight for a country expect in return. And over the need to continue nation-building and social improvement for all within a fair and just society at home after and during conflicts abroad.

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