Remembrance comes easy for me. I've had family in pretty much every major conflict from the Napoleanic Wars on through to Korea. My Great-great-Grandfather was at Waterloo, and he took a French bayonet through his hand, injuring him permanently. Uncles and cousins were in the Second World War, of course one of them, Clare, gave me my name and his death gave me part of my identity.
My Grandfather was a soldier in the Great War. When I was small I had the keen interest in soldiers and military things that most young boys have. The kind of thing that gets them to draw tanks and planes and bombs. So I pestered my Grandfather to tell me about the war, to tell me about being a soldier.
One time, I asked Grandpa if he had killed anyone. Grandpa kind of paused and looked away. Then he told me that it was what they had to do. He told me about a time that he came upon a German soldier. Both reached for their grenades, Grandpa his Mills Bomb, the German his potato masher. Grandpa's was on target, landing between the other man's feet, killing him.
We ask our young men and women who go to war to do terrible things for us, and to make terrible sacrifices. They do it at our behest, so we do not have to. War is Hell, my Grandfather knew that as well as any man. But he also knew that sometimes we have to go to war. After the Great War I'm sure my Grandfather hoped and prayed there would never be a need to go to war again, it was after all the "War to end all wars". But when the world found itself at war again, he was at the front of the line trying to go back. He couldn't because of a hernia, but he served at home, and recruited young men and women, knowing full well that they would be making terrible sacrifices and doing terrible things.
We might have success at war, but war itself is a failure. It is our failure to find another way, to resolve a particular conflict, or to stop some group from doing terrible things. Sometimes, unfortunately, in our world, it is a necessity.
Remembrance requires more of us than two minutes of silence once a year. It requires us to acknowledge constantly the terrible sacrifices we ask others to make for us, and the terrible things we ask them to do on our behalf. It requires us to constantly seek the resolution, and to prepare when we fail at that. It requires us to remember all of the time, what happens when we fail in this world to find peace, and security.
Photo of my grandfather's carving underground near Vimy courtesy of J. Richardson