In the fall of 2014, while working at a church in Saskatoon, I took the opportunity to attend a Remembrance Day Service at the city’s SaskTel Centre. It was just three weeks after that terrible day in Ottawa when a Canadian reservist, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was fatally shot at Ottawa’s War Memorial. As we remember, the shooter in that case, then stormed the Parliament Centre Block before being gunned down by Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers.
With that tragic incident fresh on everyone’s mind it wasn’t surprising that the Memorial Service that day was the largest in Saskatoon’s history. With more than 10,000 people standing in silence at the 11 o’clock hour in honour of all of Canada’s fallen for our nation, it was a moment to remember in more ways than one.
The drama on Parliament Hill on October 22, 2014 captures well the reason for this Day’s importance and meaning. Vivid pictures of true sacrifice always stir our hearts about what’s really important in life.
For one thing, a day such as this is a continual reminder of the obvious existence of good and evil in our world. It is naïve for us to ignore the existence of this dichotomy. Remembrance Day and all of human history reminds us that this great divide is more than mere religious dogma.
But faith can help us understand it.
Christianity, for example, characterizes this difference in terms of light and darkness, righteousness and wickedness, or God and Satan. But it also holds out the vibrant hope that darkness can, and will ultimately be overcome by eternal light. This, of course, is the meaning of Jesus’ historic resurrection. It demonstrates that a V-day over the world’s evil is absolutely certain.
Remembrance Day acknowledges that war is an inevitable part of life. There are wars and then there are wars. Some exist out of defense for what really matters. Though we may rightly try to do everything possible to avoid war, security and true freedom will always be threatened by evil powers of one kind or another. Conflict takes many shapes of which war is the ultimate expression. That which is truly good and right is worth the most diligent pursuit and defense every day in our lives.
Yet it’s also important to remember that this kind of devotion will never happen without tremendous cost. Sacrifice for what is good and true is at the heart of what this Day is all about.
Annually, Remembrance Day is graphic testimony to the bloody sacrifice of so many for the freedom and quality of life we enjoy. It hints loudly that sacrifice itself is central to progress. And, for Christians of course, it also points powerfully to the historic sacrifice that was made outside of Jerusalem when the Perfect Man willingly laid down his life on a wooden cross for the sin of the whole world.