The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is a well-known refrain that signaled the end of the First World War.
At the time it was heralded as the war to end all wars. Regrettably, history has disproved that statement as a naïve, albeit noble, vision. Since that time, the Second World War, Korea and a litany of other military conflicts have disrupted lives and caused chaos around the globe.
It could be described as the human condition – where power and might are almost always at odds with goodness and mercy. Factor in economics, the egos of despots and their insatiable desire to dominate, the cycle of violence appears to have no end.
Currently, despite a period of seeming affluence, China and Russia exhibit aspirations of their own as they provoke land disputes while oppressing portions of their population. Taiwan, Ukraine, war games, the push for nuclear capabilities by rogue states – these all have the makings of seminal events that could disrupt peace.
There is a discomforting chill in the air these days and it is not the vestiges of the Cold War – times only known by a fraction of the population now. We are entering an era of greater uncertainty in the world. From climate crises to increasing migration, the world is becoming less predictable and less stable. For demagogues, these times of uncertainty offer up a fertile breeding ground where seeds of distrust and hate can be sewn. The resultant feral harvest remains anyone’s guess, but if history is a guide, the outcome often ends in tragedy and heartache.
Today, Nov. 11 at 11 am, as Canadians honour the sacrifice of veterans, two minutes of silence will occur. During that time Canadians will pay their respects to remember the fallen, those who returned and have since passed, as well as those who don uniforms in service of country today.
Thoughts run deep during that reprieve – reflecting on the ageless men and women who didn’t come home. They answered a call to arms, to right wrongs and save this country harmless from a menace that brought out the worst in human-kind. Oppression is something those in the free world know little about. So much in life is about perspective.
We do sense a difference this year in speaking with people about Remembrance Day. Whether it be the cool winds mentioned above or the sinking feeling that less than 40,000 veterans from WWII are still alive, Canadians seem more engaged on the subject this year.
Please remember to honour those who kept Canada free.
A colleague down Stoney Creek way shared thanks he had for the opportunity over his career to honour veterans by telling their story.
That perhaps is one of the great rewards of working in this industry – detailing history that can be easily lost.
Similar expressions of gratitude flowed at a small independent publisher’s conference we attended last weekend. While not always first in this digital age, community newspapers remain relevant in small towns and on rural sideroads by telling the stories of locals. And not just the bare bones, forced in part by platforms that have little in the way of journalistic standards or a work culture that views merit in posting quicker than anyone else.
No, journalism is about getting the rest of the story and the context that goes along with it. Reward is found in being thorough.
Locally, our staff have touched on many significant issues over the years.
In recent weeks a light was shone on issues at the local high school in Fergus. As that history unfolds, with it has come an outpouring of community support. Most notably, letters to the editor that in a sense “speak truth to power” – demanding better for young people struggling within a school system that is failing them.
Thanks to our readers for insisting on better.