We all grew up learning the facts about the wars. World War I, or the “Great War”, was a major conflict focused in Europe that began in July, 1914, and lasted until November 11, 1918. It involved all the world’s great powers.
More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilized in one of the largest wars in history. More than 9 million combatants were killed. It was the sixth deadliest conflict in world history. [Wikipedia, “World War I”.] World War II was an international conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world’s nations, including all of the great powers. Ultimately, two opposing military coalitions were formed: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilized. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities. [Wikipedia, “World War II”.] The facts are jarring, incomprehensible to say the least.
I acknowledge that there have been many, many conflicts, before and since the two that I’ve chosen. These two wars illustrate, to me, how huge and far reaching war can be. These sobering numbers – people numbering in the tens of millions involved, barely register. But let me assure you, that there were several locals who served in these massive, military campaigns.
The list of Milestone and area men and women who have volunteered for active service in Canada’s armed forces are simply too numerous for me to list in my space. Please be assured though, Milestone and District, as well as many other small, rural communities across the country, is very well-represented when it comes to volunteering to join in and fight for a cause that is worth fighting for. I am touched as I look at the pictures of the men and women in my Milestone history book and realize what they were all willing to give up, and some ultimately did, so that future generations might know a world without oppression.
I doubt that I would be able to muster the same courage and I don’t even want to think about such a situation and how my sons would be affected.
Even though the world is still wrought with conflict, I don’t believe these efforts and sacrifices were made in vain. Human nature, being what it innately is, contains both good and bad.
My own human nature is no shining example. But, every day, if we search past the typically negative daily news headlines, we can find stories of generosity, kindness and overwhelming goodness. That is what we must cling to.
Milestone held its Remembrance Day Service at the High School on Thursday, November 10th. Young and old gather together to pay their respect. The bag-pipes version of “Amazing Grace” greeted us. The youth recited poetry and sang songs of remembrance. The gymnasium was full. Youth cadets lead the procession of the flags. The laying of the wreaths was observed. The “Last Post” was played.
Two minutes of silence was observed. And, of course, “Reveille” was also played. The gym was beautifully decorated by the art students of the schools. I believe the youth in this community “get it.” Once again, Milestone School hosted a moving intergeneration service.