Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At the 11th Hour

Suffer the Little Children
Bernard Joseph Steffen
1939

Today is the 90th Anniversary of Armistice Day, or as it is now known in Canada, Remembrance Day, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Today at 11:00 a.m. we give two minutes silence as a sign of respect for the members of the armed forces who served in the war. The original Armistice Day was intended as remembrance for everyone who lost their lives in “the war to end all wars”. We all know, however, that World War I was not the war to end all wars, and World War II was far more deadly, not only for members of the armed forces, but for civilians.

20 million people were killed in World War I – 10 million military and 10 million civilians. The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II is roughly 72 million people. The civilian toll was around 47 million, including 20 million deaths due to war-related famine and disease. The military toll was about 25 million, including the deaths of about 4 million prisoners of war in captivity.

It is estimated that during his regime, Stalin killed 20,000,000 of his countrymen, and Hitler killed approximately 6,000,000 Jews, Gypsies, and other people he considered “undesirable”. Almost 2,000,000 of them were children and babies.

During the Vietnam War there were approximately 58,000 Americans killed, 1,100,000 North and South Vietnamese killed, and millions of civilians.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, there were approximately 151,000 civilian deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2007. However, according to research done by Opinion Research Business, an independent polling agency located in London, there were 1,220,580 Iraqi civilian deaths in the Iraq war. I work with Iraqi doctors, and I think this latter number may be closer to the truth.

My arithmetic is not very good, but that is a heck of a lot of innocent civilians who have died because of war or philosophical differences. How many more millions of people have been wounded, disfigured, displaced, or suffer illness and other hardships because of war? How many children have been orphaned? And it is still happening. Who will be next? What can we do about it? Not a thing. When I watched the start of the Iraq War, live and in living color on prime time television, March 20, 2003, and I watched the tanks driving over the beautiful bridges on the Tigris River, all I could think about was how frightened the children of Baghdad must have been at that moment. I was heartsick. To me, it was as devastating as watching the World Trade Centers falling. Why was any of it necessary?

So, today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when we remember the veterans who served and who gave their lives, I think we should also remember all those millions of innocent people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who got caught in the cross-fire.

11 comments:

The Grandpa said...

They deserve our remembrance. Thak you, Jo, for reminding us all so eloquently.

Adventure girl wanna be said...

Right on Jo! What a shame! That we can't learn and that rulers still see war as an option! Sickening and stupid! No disrespect to those that have served!

willow said...

Excellent post. Let us not forget.

Lilly's Life said...

Excellent post indeed. We call it Rememberance Day in Australia too. I found your post from Grandpa's site.

Deb said...

A very wonderful tribute to those that served our nations all across the world.
Do you believe if women ruled countries, war would be a faint distant memory?

Hilary said...

Thoughtful post, Jo. I should have known to pop over here first to see another Remembrance Day post today. Well said as always.

Bobbie said...

An excellent post!
The numbers of people in your post are staggering! Will there ever be world peace?
Thank you to all the service men and women for their sacrifices, both past and present.

Russell said...

I echo what those before have said - an incredible, excellent post.

I was telling my students today that there are so many things in our lives we take for granted - eletricity, clean water - running water for that matter, good roads, a place to stay, food, and on and on.

I should have said FREEDOM. So many men and women have given so much and we so often take it for granted. And, yes, the collateral consequences are enormous. Children, spouses, parents, siblings, friends ... so many people, so many lives are affected by every person who is killed or injured by war.

There are times when war is necessary. There are other times when it is not. But any time there is war there is sadness...

Take care.

Dr.John said...

AS long as there are those who know they are right and the others are wrong;
as long as their are people who feel superior to other people;
As long as there are people who feel threatened by other people;
as long as there are people who are willing to take what others have;
There will be war.

Carl said...

Eloquent Post Jo. Thank You!

Jo said...

Grandpa, yes, they certainly do deserve our remembrance, don't they?

Adventuregirl, I am totally against war of any kind, unless it is a last, last, last resort.

Willow, oh, yes...

Lilly's Life, welcome! I think Australia and Canada are a lot alike.

Deb, if women ruled counries? Well, the United States came very close to having a woman ruler, and they chose someone else. I personally preferred Hillary Clinton, but there ya go... :-)

Hilary, I read you post today too. Very moving!

Bobbie, I don't think human beings are peaceful animals. I think war is in their nature, sadly.

Russell, oh, yes, we have been blessed just by being born in North America. We have no idea of the things we take for granted, freedom being one of them. So true!!

Dr. John, as long as there are people who are willing to take what others have; There will be war. You have hit the nail on the head!

Carl, thank you! :-)