What Passchendaele (2008) Taught Me
I’ve seen a lot of films about modern warfare. All Quiet on the Western Front, Das Boot, Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down are the first to come to mind. I’ve always held Remembrance Day as a somber day in my life, but it wasn’t until I saw a mediocre Canadian film called Passchendaele that I took a greater interest in Canadian soldiers over the course of our country’s short history.
My Grandfather on my Mother’s side passed away before he was old enough to convey any stories I would eventually ask to my Grandad on my Father’s side. But I only ever asked him about the war once. He told me about corvettes and serving overseas, but he didn’t like to talk about it much and even as a young boy of 12, I knew that I had to respect that. It really was something you didn’t talk about when I was a child. So, while I loved my grandparents, all past now, I never spoke to them much about what the world was like for them in those dark days.
I’ve always had a lot of pride in my Canadian heritage. Our country, not even 150 years old, still allows us to forge our own identity. And a part of that history comes with the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917. Paul Gross, a proudly Canadian filmmaker directed the 2008 film to remind all Canadians of the valour and honour our soldiers have. And until this film, I really had only seen American and British fighting for our Freedom.
Of course, it’s crazy to discount this, because of course, Canadian soldiers were overseas doing their part – however, this was the first time I really saw and felt that pride. I try to watch the film every Remembrance Day to feel and remember.
These men and women, who fought and continue to fight for our freedom is something we have to remember. It’s the reason we stand and remove our hats in stadiums when a soldier is in attendance. It’s the reason we extend our hand to these heroes and say thank you. It’s because they do what most of us won’t. They stand up and say, “I’m going to do this for all of us – so you sir, can build on your dreams for a better tomorrow, unafraid. So you ma’am, can build your wisdom and lead us into tomorrow. I’m going to do this for us because someone has to.”
Lesson 7: The price of freedom has always been high. Never forget the many who are willing to pay this price.
Passchendaele isn’t a terrific film, but it brought with it pride and clarity that I had never realized before. And it reminded me why I wear a poppy today.
I began writing this at half past 10 in the morning and we’re approaching that hour. At 11am, I hope you join me in closing your laptop, ignoring social media and bow your head to remember. Never forget the sacrifices and honour of so many who fought & still fight so we can live the kind of lives we have the freedom to choose.
Lest We Forget