Remembrance carries weight due to current conflict

The words “we remember” held particular resonance at this year’s Soldier’s Tower Remembrance Day ceremony at U of T. As a war rages on in Afghanistan, world war history lessons, Flander’s fields and poppies ask the pressing question, “What have we learned?”

Students gathered at U of T on Friday to commemorate their grandparents who fought in the war, and to reflect on current conflict.

When asked whether people have learned from the wars of the past, first year arts and sciences student Katherine Mackenzie stated: “It’s hard to generalize because I think a lot of people have [learned], but judging by what’s happening right now, not enough, or not deeply enough.”

“We’re here because we think it’s important to remember all the things that have gone on, especially with what’s going on today, and also because I had relatives who were in one of the wars,” said Jamie Drake, second year music student.

“I’m not sure [if we’ve learned],” continued Drake. Referring to the war in Afghanistan, he said “I’ll have to see how it turns out […] I think if our reaction had been different—less violent—it would seem like we’d learned a little bit more.”

A speaker at the ceremony drew the crowd’s attention to the words on the window of the Soldiers’ Tower: service, sacrifice, peace and freedom.

A choir of students sang “O Canada” in front of a wall with the names of U of T students and faculty who fought in the world wars.

A few remarked that they felt distanced from the current conflict.

“I feel more detached from this war,” said Mackenzie.

“I’m reading about it, and it’s upsetting, but it’s not hitting me the same way. I know one person in the armed forces, so it’s a weird feeling that he could actually be going over there.”

Her friend, first year life sciences student Samantha Franks, shared a feeling of detachment.

“I think some people have learned, some people have forgot. I don’t think that’s going to change anything about how countries go about their business. I still think that there are still going to be wars, unfortunately.”

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