Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11th in the Early 21st Century

We still hold to the tradition of November 11th as Remembrance Day, even though there are no longer any living Canadian veterans from WW1: the war to end all war that ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month in 1918.  Within a couple more decades, we will bid farewell to the final veterans of WW2 who (for people of my generation), have been the faces of Remembrance Day); and within the lifetimes of my children, there will be no more people to share direct stories of the Korean War: the third and final 20th century war that are often commemorated on our cenotaphs.
We do have modern veterans of the post-9/11 Afghanistan War and others who have faced armed conflicts through UN and NATO deployments.  These women and men will be the continuing faces of Remembrance Day for new generations, but we are witnessing a significant change in the nature November 11th… and I think I know why:
Most of the veterans of WW1 and WW2 were not soldiers by trade - they were wartime volunteers (and a few reluctant conscripts from 1917 and 1944).  After the wars, few of them remained in the armed forces.
Modern veterans are ‘career soldiers’ many of whom choose this vocation in peace-time.
I do not presume to rank the value of the war-time temporary soldier versus the peace-time career soldier, I just note that there is a difference. 
As the WW2 generation ages, we have witnessed our Royal Canadian Legions winding down.  It is sad to see, but it makes sense: the legions were built on the desires of the temporary soldiers to maintain the best of the comradery (which they had experienced in war) after they came home and moved on with their lives.  For the modern military, those supports are built into the career.  A relatively small percentage of modern military personnel feel drawn to Legion activity.  This type of soldier has different needs for comradery.
Lest we forget.  Even if we remember in a new way.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


June 22, 2013

Dear friends in the broader United Church and beyond,
We are most grateful to all who have contacted us regarding the situation in High River and have asked about the status of High River United Church. The last three days have been overwhelming for the whole community, as everyone has been evacuated from their homes and are waiting to return. The water came in so fast and furiously that people had little notice to prepare for leaving their homes. No one could have ever predicted what happened.

The church building is devastated. Water poured in from both front and back as well as through the floor boards. The sandbagging we did made absolutely no difference. In the end, there was 2 1/2 to 3 feet of water flowing through the whole church. We had an opportunity to get computers, hand bells, and many important documents to higher and safer levels, but the devastation in the church is overwhelming. It will be a long time before we will be back in the building. The challenge will be the fact that insurance will not cover this because it was flood water that damaged the building. And though the congregation has worked with great diligence and energy, we have not yet finished paying the mortgage off from our rebuild 5 years ago.

However, that is just the start. Most of High River was under water. No one has ever seen anything like this. Even areas of town thought safe from flooding were struck. Many, many of our congregational members will have damage to some extent in their houses and some will have lost their homes. Our own home had 4-5 feet of water in the basement when we left.

So many have been so gracious to all of us who have been evacuated. Friends, family and strangers have taken us into their homes, and it won't be for just a few days. It will take weeks and months to re-build our community. We also think of all the other devastated communities hit by the flooding: Canmore, Black Diamond-Turner Valley and Calgary.

Every time we start feeling overwhelmed, we say to ourselves the words of Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you. I will hold you up with my strong arms.” We really need to know those strong arms of God through you, the people of God in the coming days.
What can you do?

Pray for all the people, communities and churches affected by the flooding.
Donate through the United Church of Canada website to the “Alberta Floods” fund to help all communities effected by the flooding.

Donate directly to High River United through (search for: High River United Church)
Keep updated on our situation by checking out our High River United Church Facebook page.

High River United Church has committed to being a community of help, home and hope in the heart of High River. That commitment to our community and to God's mission will continue
despite this devastation with your help and support.

Rev. Susan Lukey and Rev. David Robertson