We had an wonderful service of remembrance at our church on Sunday. A young woman in our congregation told us of her experience visiting Normandy and Vimy Ridge, where there is a Canadian war memorial. She spoke eloquently and shared her own emotional reactions through her story. She also showed an accompanying slide show of her own photos from those places. I was moved to tears listening to her. Toward the end, she said that she wished so many more could have the chance to visit places like this. I agree, visiting places of honour and remembrance opens people's hearts and minds to the reality of war. And it's important to shine a light on that reality so we do not keep going down that same path.
The closest similar experience I've had was standing in the ghetto in Venice, on the very spot where thousands of people were rounded up and sent to concentrations camps. It really does hit the heart hard to stand in those places and feel the presence of those who suffered the horrendous atrocities of war...
The plaque says:
Duecento ebrei di venezia
ottomila ebrei d'italia
sei milioni di ebrei d'europa
da cieco barbarico odio
in lontane terre
cacciati martoriati soppressi
il ricordo dell atrocissima offesa
alla umana civilta
richiami cli uomini tutti
alla santa legge di dio
ai sentimenti di fraternita e di amore
che primo israele affermo fra i popoli
Which words I typed into google translate and then tried to make sense of the result. Here's a very rough translation in English:
Two hundred eight thousand Jews of the Jews of Venice, Italy, six million European Jews, hunted tortured exterminated by blind hatred in barbaric distant lands.
The memory of the atrocious offense against human civilization calls all humanity to the holy law of God to the feelings of brotherhood and love told first among the peoples of Israel.
The above are my own photos, but I also found these images in a google search and want to post them here for Remembrance Day...
And now, I'm off to the service of remembrance at the cenotaph in my community. Several hundred (Dave figures close to a thousand) people gather annually for this service - which I think is an amazing turnout for a community of only 3,500 or so. We gather to pay our respects and honour those who have given lives, health, peace of mind in order that the rest of us may enjoy our comfortable lives. We will remember...