Vimy Memorial Bandshell

November 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm (My City) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am ambivalent about the memorialization of war. On one hand, I do think we need to focus on the sacrifices individuals and communities make in times of war. On the other hand, I think there should be better ways to solve major political conflicts. For more on this topic, see last year’s post.

Here in my city, there are numerous war memorials along the Meewasin Trail. They start with the Boer War and conclude with the Korean War. The two biggest memorials commemorate the two world wars.

One of my favourites memorials is the Vimy Bandshell.

The Bandshell was a community project that is still used by the community. There are no longer weekly, Sunday concerts but this area of the riverbank is well used during the Summer, for cultural as well as various musical events. As well, many brides and graduates have their picture taken here, both within and beside the bandshell. I once witnessed a wedding, itself, being performed in the bandshell.

The plaque above, posted by the bandshell, gives you a brief history of the project. It doesn’t tell you how the money was raised, who donated or what sacrifices were made. How many families, school children and businesses donated money in an individual soldier’s name? How many went every Sunday to hear a band play and remember a lost loved one? How many lost during, and after, this dreadful war.

I can’t answer these questions. I don’t know anyone who lived in the city then. I don’t know if there were concerts every Sunday. I like to think there were. However, my memory of bandshells and Sunday concerts come from books, especially the Betsy, Tacy and Tib series, and movies.

I like the bandshell because it is practical and usable. I like the fact that almost 100 years after it was built it is still an integral part of my city. I admire its simplicity and its beauty. I pass it almost every day as I walk back and forth between home and work.

I pass by it in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. I watch how light and shadow rest beside it morning, noon, and night.

If I had a favourite war (oh, what a depressing thought), it would be World War One. War still seemed romantic back then. Or at least it did, when the war started. Historically, this is the war where the world lost its innocence; where we all collectively saw exactly what it meant to fight and die. This is when even the poets talked more of loss then honour.

It was during this war (this long, bloody, awful war) that we started to question why such actions were necessary. It was after this war, that we collectively vowed never again (and yet, and still, twenty some years later).

Can I take pleasure in war memorials and still wish for a better way to end world-sized conflicts?

How will I remember?

With ambivalence…for I understand that the cost of freedom is never free.

By questioning…that there has to be a better way than mass conflict and so many dying.

Through learning…even the information that I’m not sure is correct.

With hope…that when we say never again, we actually mean never again!

This is how I will remember.

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1 Comment

  1. Commemorate – Don’t Celebrate | Solitary Spinster said,

    […] by discussing my views about the Vimy Memorial, […]

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