Bob Groeneveld has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with Langley readers for the past four decades, give or take a few months.

Bob Groeneveld has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with Langley readers for the past four decades, give or take a few months.

Odd Thoughts: Don’t stop remembering

One day a year doesn’t seem enough remembering to stop the world from going crazy.

By Bob Groeneveld

.

Rev. William Deans was the speaker at the Remembrance Day ceremony held at Langley Athletic Hall in 1937.

A brief note in the Langley Advance files from that November indicated that the service was conducted by Rev. W.R. Walkinshaw, and that Mrs. J. Powell sang two songs, Face to Face and Crossing the Bar. Mrs. Powell’s voice was reputed to have been as beautiful as the poetry of the lyrics, so the effect at that solemn occasion was likely deeply stirring. The last post was sounded by Glenn Powell and Stan Bishop, and piper James Duncan played Flowers of the Forest.

Not all Remembrance Day activities were recorded in the local community paper in those years.

Sombre Remembrance Day ceremonies must have flown in the face of the faintest breath of a pervading optimism that the Great Depression, already nearly a decade old, couldn’t possibly go on much longer.

And after all, by the time the late 1930s rolled around, the War to End All Wars was nearly two decades in the past, and despite nasty rumblings of dangerous political behaviour coming out of Europe, there could be no real understanding of just how ironic the nickname given to the First World War would soon become.

What were those people gathered in the halls and at the churches and around local cemeteries thinking about during the stirring music and dramatic speeches that captured their attention on those Remembrance Days in the late 1930s?

What were those people remembering as they stood solemnly, heads bowed, on those cold, clammy November mornings?

Many of them were probably wearing poppies, just as we do now, a custom adopted in Canada since 1920 to help us remember what we’d all rather forget, but never should.

Were they thinking the same kinds of thoughts that we think about during the moment of silence at 11 o’clock each November 11 that marks the same end to the same war?

Except, of course, we’ve added three more wars to our memorial services since then – the Second World War which was looming barely over their horizon, plus the Korean War (with far too few Remembrance Days in between), and just to prove that we still never really got it, the War in Afghanistan.

That last entry on our list of remembrances (so far) happened despite my generation having been so incredibly fortunate as to have avoided direct contact with wars ourselves. Or maybe “despite” is not the right word, perhaps it should be “because.”

Maybe the right question isn’t about what they were remembering on Remembrance Day all those years ago.

Maybe we should ask what they were thinking the day after Remembrance Day. And the day after that. And the day after that.

Maybe one day a year is simply not enough for remembering what happens when we let the world go crazy.

Maybe one day of remembering isn’t enough to keep soulless madmen from stealing the souls of our nations… and the lives of our children.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brian Lott, of the Rotary Club of Langley Central, emceed the prize draw on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley woman wins $73,615 in first ever Langley Rotary Mega Draw

After months of ticket sales, the draw was livestreamed from the Rotary Interpretive Centre Thursday

Kanata Soranaka became a Belmont bulldog this school year, and has used technology and innovation to continue to bring music to students despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley teacher finds new ways to keep the music playing during COVID

Kanata Soranaka and her music cart a common sight around Belmont Elementary

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Langley RCMP are trying to identify this man, who allegedly struck a woman over a dispute about an off-leash dog in a Langley City park in October. (Langley RCMP/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Off-leash dog leads to attack in Langley City park

A man allegedly attacked a woman after an argument, RCMP say

Members queue up at the Langley Costco in May of 2020. Four staff at the store tested positive for the coronavirus over two weeks in November, said an employee who did not want to be named for fear of losing their job (Langley Advance Times file)
Four COVID cases in two weeks at Langley Costco

Staffer blames spike on relaxed enforcement of COVID-19 measures, says ‘it’s a zoo’

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is investigating after a 30-year-old woman died in a Newton alley early this morning after being found with gunshot wounds in a vehicle. The incident happened in the 13700-block of 75A Avenue. (Photo: Lauren Collins).
Woman, 30, dead after early morning crash, shooting in Surrey

Surrey RCMP looking for vehicle, video surveillance in area of 13700-block of 75A Avenue

Most Read