Gratitude for Service

  • Head's Note
Tobin Bechtel

 

While it was just past three o’clock in the morning our time this past Wednesday, the annual ceremony at the Cenotaph in London started precisely at the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month - the same time that the armistice was declared for World War One. Every year since then, the English-speaking world (as well as most European nations) has recognized the service of veterans. 

Even though we choose to recognize the importance of service on a day that a war ended, we must remember that the active service of our armed forces continues in all times and conditions. For me, this is brought home by the time troops continued to serve away from home from that day in 1918 all the way through 1920. It is a hundred years ago this year that WW1 officially ended in a peace settlement that had to be militarily enforced.

The supposed ‘war to end all wars’ did not bring peace. I have a commemorative plate from that era that was more prescient than could have been known by the creator. While a Pax (peace) sun rises above dark clouds, it is a sword that holds up the Versailles banner. The clouds would never be dispersed by the sun during those interwar years and the sword point was always ready to pierce the peace. In the hundred years since then, we have seen numerous wars and peace is as tenuous as it has ever been. Our troops have been important in preserving the freedom and democracy we enjoy as citizens no matter the state of world affairs at any given time. 

We were fortunate to have a number of active service members and veterans come to campus this past week to meet with our students. I am always impressed by the questions our students ask and the respect they give to our visitors whether they are in Grade 3 or Grade 12.  Having these opportunities in spite of pandemic conditions is so important for our children. They need to hear the stories firsthand and connect so they can know what service is in action. This is a powerful way to deepen the disposition of gratitude and inculcate the importance of serving our community. I believe this day is a good entry point into our season of thanksgiving and celebration of what we have as citizens of a democratic nation.

  • head's note
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