Each Remembrance Day Canadians pause to remember the abundance of sorrow in war, the abundance of horror in war and to acknowledge dreams of peace, Rev. Stephen Ruten, chaplain for the Kamsack branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, said in his homily during the Remembrance Day service in Kamsack.
“Every year on this day, we pause to honour and remember the men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace, and especially the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Ruten said. “We will remember them.”
Reflecting on the abundance of sorrow in war, Ruten quoted a chaplain who had written to the sister of a soldier:
“‘It is with real sorrow that I write this letter, for it brings you, I am afraid, very bad news about your brother… I cannot tell you how sorry I am…There is not one who doesn’t feel his death as a personal blow. Everyone thought so much of him and admired his fine sturdy character and his unfailing cheerfulness. He was… a fine example to all…I wish I could help to soften the hardness of your sorrow. There is one comfort at least in knowing that he gave his life in a sacred cause fighting for right and justice. It is the greatest sacrifice that a man can make.’
“When we read those words, can we think of some way to apply these personal words of comfort to the families of all those, whose names were called out in the Honour Roll today?”
“‘War has caused us grief and cost us the finest among many a generation but we acknowledge the need to protect and defend liberty,’” Ruten said, quoting Chaplain-General Stanley Johnston.
“‘The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him,’” he said, quoting G.K. Chesterton.
“Romans 13 refers to those who bear arms to protect and defend liberty as ‘God’s servants’ or ‘ministers.’ And I give public thanks to each one here who has served faithfully to protect and defend.”
Remembering the abundance of horror in war, Ruten said that nearly two-thirds of military deaths in the First World War were in battle, whereas in previous conflicts most deaths were due to disease. During the First World War, the Spanish flu cased about a third of total military deaths.
Ruten quoted Wilfred Owen, who described a battle in poetry, and Don McLean’s song The Grave, which described a 20-year-old in the horror of battle, and then said that 100 years ago this year the Canadian John McCrae penned the following words on the end result of the horrors of war:
“‘We are the dead. Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, loved and were loved and now we lie in Flanders fields.’
“There are horrors in war that must not be forgotten.”
Acknowledging dreams of peace, Ruten said that John Lennon had imagined many things, including “Imagine all the people living life in peace.
“The conflict that started just over 100 years ago was supposed to be ‘the war to end war.’ That became a catchphrase in the First World War. David Lloyd George is supposed to have retorted: ‘this war, like the next war, is a war to end war.’
“Neville Chamberlain said there would be ‘peace in our time’ by his signing a piece of paper in 1938 with Hitler.
“The prophet Jeremiah had no good words to say to those who were out of touch with the truth in promoting false hope. He wrote in Jeremiah 6:14, ‘Peace, they say, when there is no peace.’
“In the passage from Isaiah… a time is coming, the prophet said when ‘the wolf will live with the lamb… the infant will play near the cobra’s den and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.’
“Isaiah described again a time when ‘He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation nor will they train for war anymore.’
“The song that came from the slaves of America captured this future in these words: ‘Gonna lay down my burden, down by the riverside; I ain’t gonna study war no more.’
“As God created the universe by the word of His mouth in the beginning, so rebel nations will be brought into submission by the powerful word of Christ,” he said. “Let’s be sure to note that Jesus says there is an end.
“History, like all good stories, has a beginning, a middle and an end, and the Bible is very clear that as the end draws near, the focus of the world will be on the Mid-east, indeed on tiny Israel, where the Saviour of the World was born.
“The Saviour who died in humiliation for the sins of the world will return in glory,” Ruten said. “In all our dreams of peace, it is Christ who is our hope.”
The service had begun in the Victoria School auditorium shortly before 11 a.m. on November 11 with the march on of the colours with Legion branch members Lynn Baillie, Judy Green, Diana Belovanoff and Dianne Smutt.
After the singing of O Canada, Jim Woodward, branch president, read the Honour Roll, which was followed by Ralph Cuervo on trumpet playing of The Last Post. After two minutes silence, Cuervo played Reveille and then Woodward recited the Act of Remembrance.
Ruten said the opening prayer and then the Kamsack Community Choir, under the direction of Susan Bear, led in the singing of O God Our Help in Ages Past.
Wreaths were laid on behalf of 37 groups and individuals and the representatives of each were escorted to the front of the hall by two members of the Kamsack air cadet squadron.
The Candle of Remembrance was lit and the choir rose to sing A Prayer for Peace.
Rev. Nancy Brunt and Gwen Reilkoff read scripture (Isaiah 11 6-10 and Mathew 24 3-8).
Following Ruten’s homily, the choir, with Marilyn Marsh at the piano, sang In Flanders Fields. Ruten said the closing prayer, God Save the Queen was sung and, playing the bagpipes, Keri Lindsay led the colour party off the stage and out of the room.
Frank Airriess was the parade marshal and 2Lieut. Karen Bodnaryk was in charge of the Kamsack air cadets.
Members of the Kamsack Legion invited persons interested to accompany Legion members to Togo for a service in front of the Togo Cenotaph at 2 p.m. and the Remembrance Day supper was served at the Kamsack Legion Hall at 6 p.m.