This Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance in Canada. The Journal sat down with Joanne Archibald, ArtSci ’14 and PhD ‘25, who’s studying Canada’s role in military engagements and international political history.
For Archibald, studying military history and speaking about Remembrance Day is important because of her family connections.
“My grandfather served in the Second World War, and his brother died in the D-day invasion,” Archibald said.
“I think military history is a really important way for Canadians to learn about our shared international history, and the role we have played on an international stage, and how we can use lessons learned from military history to apply today,” Archibald said.
Archibald says it’s also important to recognize veteran’s issues and the impacts veterans face today after coming back from war.
“The field of medical military history is actually growing quite substantially. Hopefully we are moving in the right direction with care for veterans. Hopefully we can see what we have done in the past, what has worked, and what has not worked to provide the best support to service members and their families,” Archibald said.
Archibald added that along with WWI and WWII veterans, this year Canadians will also be focused on the impacts soldiers returning from Afghanistan are facing.
“This year especially, people will think about Afghanistan vets, given the situation that is unfolding there.” Archibald said.
“One of the criticisms of Remembrance Day is that people think about it as the First and Second World War, and Korea vets and don’t really connect it to current serving members.”
Archibald also brought up the impact Indigenous soldiers played in the story of the Canadian military.
“We marked Indigenous Veterans’ Day recently. Also remembering that Indigenous veterans who served their country much like their compatriots did not receive the same welcome back into Canadian society,” she said.
“As we know Indigenous people in Canada were not treated respectfully […] What is important about remembering Indigenous veterans is remembering their excellent legacy, such as the Cree code talkers.”
Archibald said Canadians need to remember the horrors of war and the legacy of war itself.
“It is important to remember that these conflicts were horrible, and that many people died. War is not something that we want to experience ourselves, and unfortunately we do still experience the horrors of war,” Archibald said.
“The significance of Remembrance Day is to understand the importance leading from these past conflicts, and re-dedicating ourselves to the ideals of peace and working together across national lines.”
Beverly Frid, MBA ‘84, has worked on going through archives and records to learn more about Queen’s students who fought in the world wars.
“There is so much online in the archives, and you can get all of The Journals going back to the 1800s. There is a whole section on world wars one and two, I also found a lot of information to find records on soldiers,” Frid said.
Frid was inspired to post details about her findings on soldiers to the Facebook group “Overheard at Queen’s.”
“I thought a lot of alumni and students are members in overheard, and people could view the posts,” Frid said.
“I was also fed up with students whining and complaining about lockdown and partying. A hundred years ago you guys would be in a ditch in France.”
Frid noted some soldiers who attended Queen’s eventually went on to fight in the world wars.
“George Richardson, the namesake for Richardson stadium, has such an interesting story. When you read about him you realize what kind of person he was, and his strength of character,” Frid said.
“His post got the most traction on Overheard.”
Frid thinks all Queen’s students need to take time out of their day and think about the legacy of those that came before them.
“Think about it personally, these were guys and girls your age. These could have been your friends.”
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