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Editorial: The other side of Remembrance

First World War trenches.
First World War trenches. -

 

On June 28, 1916, Pte. Ernest Leslie Chafe wrote this letter to his mother, Jane:

 

“Somewhere in France,” June 28, 1916

My Darling Mother: As this is our battle eve I thought I would write you a few lines of farewell in case anything should happen to me.

Our Regiment tomorrow will be engaged in one of the greatest battles of modern times. I hope and trust that our Battalion won’t be cut up very much and that we will keep up the honour of our country. As for myself I will do my very best, but if it is willed that I am to go under, I will go with the full consciousness that I died in a good cause. I am in the best of health and that is a good thing.

I think the Germans will get it hot this time. I feel sure that this battle will go a great way to end this war.

I am only writing this letter, mother dear, in case I am knocked out but if I survive the battle I will tear it up. I will put it in my pocket enclosed with a few directions as to who to send it to, etc.

I am far from thinking, mother dear, that I will be killed for I am not built that way, but then, we cannot see the future, fortunately, it teaches us not to be too sure.

So now, mother dear, I will close with love to Father, Jack, Nell, Isabel, Dot and all the bunch; also all uncles and aunts; and hoping to see your dear, sweet face again in the near future, and with a boundless faith in Christ’s mercy and salvation.

I remain,

Ever your loving son,

ERN.

 

Three days after he wrote it — July 1, 1916 — the letter was found in Chafe’s pocket after he was killed at Beaumont Hamel along with hundreds of others in Newfoundland Regiment.

The letter was delivered to his mother.

Thousands from this province have lost their lives in battle.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians and millions of people around the world have suffered the same fate.

Some fought because it was their will. Others were compelled into battle. Some faced the enemy with gusto. Many with fear.

On Remembrance Day, we remember those who fought, and continue to fight, for the freedoms we enjoy.

We also acknowledge other countries’ losses.

But there’s something else we should remember — that war is something to avoid and its horrors should be enough to inspire resolution and peace.

Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. There are still regimes and organizations that desire conflict over conversation.

War should be the very last resort, when diplomacy has been exhausted and aggression is the only option — which it really should never be.

Human beings have the capacity to negotiate and reach agreements.

Let’s remember that today, and every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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