LETTERS: What lessons to be learned from the past

Editor:

Re: Everyone’s job to Remember, Nov. 8

While sacrifice for ideals like democracy underpin Remembrance Day, what else should we consider?

My grandfather, a Saulteaux Indian from Manitoba, volunteered for the army during the Second World War, at the age of 38.

Initially in the artillery, he later transferred to the infantry, who were desperately short of men. He fought in France, Holland and Germany and returned home, unlike his older brother who had died at Passchendaele in 1917.

Throughout the fighting in 1945, the Dutch government made it clear that they were going to return to their colonies in Indonesia after the war; indeed, after liberation, by 1946 young Dutch men were being drafted into the army and sent overseas.

Indonesians resisted imperial Dutch rule, and many were killed. In 2011, Holland made formal apologies for atrocities perpetuated by Dutch soldiers against Indonesians.

History seems full of ironies and paradoxes. One might be forgiven for asking what exactly are we to learn about the past?

Bob Burgel, Surrey

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