Padre’s Corner: Looking Forward as We Commemorate the Past

An example of a typical convoy at sea during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Padre’s Corner: Looking Forward as We Commemorate the Past

By Padre Capt (Rabbi Dr) Noteh Glogauer,
Fleet Chaplain

Every year, the first Sunday in May is set aside to commemorate the sacrifice of those who served in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Merchant Navy during the Battle of the Atlantic; the longest battle of the Second World War. Our RCN played a vital role escorting large Merchant Navy convoys ferrying critical supplies between North America and the United Kingdom. In a short time, the RCN grew from a mere 13 vessels to nearly 400, with the courage and dedication of 100,000 uniformed women and men. The RCN losses were significant, with more than 2,200 fatalities and 30 vessels. More than 900 RCAF and Canadian Army personnel were also lost.

Military commemorative services are formal events aimed at reminding us of the heroic sacrifices associated with the atrocities of the war. They are significant reminders of the selfless contributions made to Canadian history by our service members over the span of our country’s youthful narrative. One is forced to confront the continuing dangers placed upon those who take the oath of service before self, both from the rigours of military training and from violence of the enemy.

The act of remembering recurs throughout our lives. Our calendars are full of remembrances from our past, like birthdays, anniversaries, and achieved personal milestones. To grow and strengthen our resolve through the challenges life has to offer, it is insufficient to be content to mark only our happy memories of past triumphs and prior positive milestones. 

Let us acknowledge how our collective memories of the past shape us as a nation today and guide our mission to build a better world. Our memories of the struggles of war and those lost should remind us of the purpose of life and the importance of treating all people with dignity. 

Set some time aside on Sunday, May 1, 2022 to remember the sacrifices of the thousands of Canadians who fought valiantly during the Battle of the Atlantic from 1939 to 1945. 

By doing so, we collectively commemorate the past with the purpose of bettering the present and the future. Let us not live in a state of passivity about the past that has shaped today’s world, but in a state of memory and purposefulness that inspires us to make our beloved country and our world better places for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.