World War I officially ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 with the signing of the Armistice by Germany and the Entente.  Since that time we in the British Commonwealth have taken pause on that day to remember all those who have fought and died in all wars for our freedom.  Originally called Armistice Day we now call it Remembrance Day.  It is a particularly important day for Canadians as we paid a very dear price in both the world wars. We are grateful for the American contribution which tilted the odds in the Allies favour at the end of the second World War, but they never joined in active European conflict until 1943.  Canada had been there since 1939.   We lost 46,998, with another 55,000 injured.  In WWI we lost 66,665 men – mostly young sons and fathers.  It was Canadian soldiers that decided the eventual outcome of both wars.  This is the image of when Canadian troops liberated Holland in May 1945.

In the last ten years we have lost another 158 in the war in Afghanistan.  I personally believe we have no place being there in the first place.  But for these young soldiers who have lost their lives, that is not a sentiment they are allowed to hold.  They must go where they are sent, and must do what they are told, and they do it out of a profound sense of duty.  Every time we see that motorcade travelling down the Highway of Heroes carrying another dead Canadian soldier we need to remember that there are still people out there laying down their lives for us.

Our freedoms have come at  a very great price.  In Winnipeg there is a war memorial with these words on it; They gave their tomorrow, that we might have our today”.  It is an extraordinary thought that should cause us great pause.  They have given up their future for complete strangers like you and me.  Jesus said, No greater love does a man have than to lay down his life for his brothers.

Last week Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger paid our veterans the ultimate insult when he decreed that children in Manitoba schools were now permitted to opt out of Remembrance Day observances if they so desired.  Specifically he said, “We have religious freedom in Canada and if there’s a very specific reason why people, for religious purposes, don’t want their children (to attend), that is an option that they have.”  What?  What religious reasons?  Remembrance Day has nothing to do with religion.  It has to do with honouring our war dead.  Even if one is a strict pacifist (for religious or other reasons), that does not change the fact that someone laid down their life for their freedom to be a… pacifist.  This is not rocket science.  This is simple common sense reasoning.  You cannot opt out of the historical fact that individual Canadians have had to defend our freedoms at great personal cost.

If it is somehow a thinly veiled reference to immigrants of world religions other than Judeo-Christianity, again, that does not change the fact that someone else died for their freedom to come to Canada and practice whichever religion they chose.  I am appalled at the Premier’s decision and equally appalled that there has been almost no public outcry in support of the veterans.  I do give full marks to Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who bluntly tweeted, “I find it offensive, they don’t opt out of the freedoms secured by our war dead.”

I would expect a provincial Premier to be a little smarter than this.  This is yet another example of religious pluralism gone bad.  Elected officials do not have the right to rewrite history in an attempt to accommodate those that might be offended by it.  If somehow parents find offensive the fact that Canadian men and women are willing to sacrifice their lives for their children, then they can keep their kids home from school that day.  But let’s not promote ingratitude by revisionist history.

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  1. Irene Kehler says:

    I agree with every word pastor, what a grave insult to not only the soldiers who sacrificed their lives but to the families as well that bear the burden of having lost someone to war. My grandpa fought in that war, my neighbor fought in that war! God bless all those that fought and died for our great country.

  2. Audrey Joyce says:

    Your post says it all Pastor Mark. I agree with you. It just keeps on getting worse and worse.
    Our children will certainly have it harder than we did as they raise their children. It appears that it will be an uphill battle all the way. This is sad news.

  3. i agree with you pastor mark. god bless you saten is sure trying to win a losing battle

  4. Sandi says:

    What is going wrong with society that would let us as Canadians have our children opt out of Rememberance Day celebrations? WE are Canadians and if some other culture so happens to not want to join in the salute and recognition of our lost soldiers (and they should remember, that a lot of them are here because of the sacrifice our soldiers made for them, so they could have their freedom)they cannot be called Canadians, no matter what allegiance they have sworn to! When are we going to put the CANADA back into the meaning of CANADIAN?? Thank You Pastor Mark for this issue of your blog. We as Canadians have to recognize what was sacrificed for our freedoms and it must live on for us to appreciate who we are and what we stand for.

  5. Susan says:

    Thank you Pastor Mark. My next “letter” will be to the premiers office. As a daughter of 2 war vets WWII I take horrible offense at this decision. My foster dad was 17 when he enlisted with the Royal Canadian Infantry and came back from Normandy with a leg full of shrapnel that caused him pain everyday of his life – not to mention the nightmares. My father enlisted in the Royal Lancashire Fusilier’s after his neighborhood was bombed by German bombers. He spent 4 years on Malta being bombed everyday until the supply chain ran out and they lived and ate what they found in the caves. Both medaled with the highest honors Canada and Britian could hand out. Before Corporal Anderson and Sargeant Critchley passed away, their service numbers and commanding officers were sometimes the only thing they remembered. Not only is this disrespect toward our vetrans and service men and women, what does it say about the millions who died as victims at the hands of evil men and the sacrifice of countless military personel to stop the bloodshed?

  6. Dave C says:

    I totally agree with you Pastor Mark,The rememberance of those that gave their lives for all our freedoms in the service to others, has to be the most selfless act anyone can ever give.Regardless of creed, religion, or faith and there were many different cultures fighting side by side for our freedoms that we have today.I also will be writing a letter to the premier,just to remind him that he is one of us that is enjoying that freedom today,and asking for a public apology to all concerned.

    • Missy Little says:

      wow.Leave it to the polititians in Wpg to twist things around for this new generation of children.The banks were closed and there was no mail out of respect for the men AND women that have lost,and STILL are losing their lives! We are at war in so many places!!! Why paint a different picture? I have always found the government employees scoundrels in Wpg.Like lemmings,they band together to make change, until they accidently fall off a cliff.
      This will change-people forget that we are not living in a dictatorship-we must speak up and out against these issues!Props to you pastor Mark!

  7. Steve says:

    Always respected and honored all the war veterans. What a sacrifice they made to save others. God bless everyone of them.
    Makes me think of the love of Christ. He died so we could live. He is in us! We are able to love the same way He did!

  8. Evelyn Bennett says:

    What can I say? Our provincial government takes the cake. The sacrifice made on the cross, and the battlefields are 2 different things. These battles are for one thing to protect our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Remembrance Day is not a holiday. It is to mourn the men and women we lost on the battlefield. Canada would not be a free country if it wasn’t for those men and women. Maybe the government should offer a public apology to the loved ones that are reminded every year of what could have been.

  9. Gordon says:

    I completely agree Pastor Mark. When I see a government official not recognizing the significance of what these soldiers did for us and our freedoms, it certainly makes one wonder what is going on.

  10. Sally says:

    We are living in the days when evil is thought of as good and good is evil and the Word says when this happens look up for your redemption is nigh! It is a time when the godly values of the past are no longer evident. It is like the days of Noah before the flood…little respect or honor for anything of good. We are not to be surprised when this happens but we are continue to stand for the Lord and His ways!

  11. Karen says:

    I find this so offensive, I just want to smack your premier. The Manitoba Premier needs to go to a war zone (on his own dime of course) and see what the conditions are that we are sending our military men and women to. Have him spend a day in a military hospital looking after people, having him out in the field getting shot at, having him being taken prisoner by the “enemy”. Then if that doesn’t effect him when he comes home to his nice warm house, loving family, and his safe country (because of these soldiers) then maybe it’s time for him to leave office. Your premier needs to get a grip or an education or both.Being a premier he should know what the Manitoba soldiers are fighting for

  12. Edward says:

    Canada went to war? Oh…..

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