'What's a war?'

[attach]2851[/attach]Fresh out of journalism school I found myself working at the Oakville Museum as a tour guide and educational interpreter. As such it was my jobs to lead students through the museum and regale them with the history of the town.

The tour always ended in our temporary exhibit space which, being November, had photos and uniforms of local veterans on display.

On this particular day while I was explaining about the role that Oakville’s men and women played in both World Wars one little boy leaned over to his friend and asked: “What’s a war?”

His innocent question left me both dumbstruck and in awe.

I mean, how could he not know what a war is? Was he always out sick during his school’s Remembrance Day assemblies? Had he never seen a poppy and asked what it meant? Were there no veterans in his family?

And I thought of the veterans. Because this little boy had no idea about the nature of war he couldn’t begin to understand the sacrifices they made. Because he didn’t know their stories he couldn’t remember those whom we swore we would never forget.

But as quickly as that though had gripped me it was replaced by a wondrous realization. Could there be a better tribute to those who fought for Canada than the fact that in as few as two generations the idea of war was completely unknown to the country’s children? They fought and died so that we, and others around the world, wouldn’t have to live under the boot of tyranny; that we wouldn’t have to know war.

I hope that by the time he left the museum on that fall day 10 years ago the little boy had gained some idea about why we need to take time out and remember those who risked so much for people they would never meet. But I also hope he never gets the answer to his question in the same way it was answered for those we honour on November 11.