Our media-driven culture is dominated by the worship of heroes and super-heroes. True, heroes have sometimes affected the outcome of events in history. By emphasizing only the greatness of the hero and the value of his or her contribution, we miss something important. We miss the role of the ordinary man. This is especially sad and unfair on Remembrance Day .
We honour the heroes at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 because of their success. But their victory could not have been achieved without the unmarked deaths of thousands who were killed in the gas attacks of Ypres or the mud of the Somme. We honour those who fought at Juno Beach and those who liberated France and the Netherlands. We tend to ignore the nameless thousands who perished on merchant vessels in the Atlantic, in the streets of Ortona, or the flaming wreckage of bombers. It is these men, whose bodies were never recovered, whose graves are unmarked, who are the true heroes. They signed up, fought and died for their country.
It is on the basis of their sacrifice, their selfless devotion to duty, that our heritage of freedom is built. Our freedom, our multicultural democracy, our open society is built on the foundation of what they gave their lives to achieve. Jesus Christ once said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 ESV) On November 11 of this year, the 98th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, let us please take the time to visit the War Memorial and honour those nameless men who fell in the World Wars of the 20th Century and made the greatest sacrifice, laying down their lives for us. It is the least we can do.