Canadian soldiers landed at Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. This one one of many battles fought during the Second World War. (Contributed)

Canadian soldiers landed at Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. This one one of many battles fought during the Second World War. (Contributed)

Many veterans have repeated messages about the importance of preventing another war

There’s a picture in our files at the Summerland Review showing a young Steve Dunsdon in his military uniform.

He was one of many from this community who served during the Second World War.

Dunsdon, who was born in 1919, was in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corp from 1942 to 1945.The mandate of the Service Corp was to provide support for other branches of the military.

He was stationed in England, France, Belgium and Germany, and he landed in France shortly after D-Day in June 1944.

After the war and until his death in 2011, Dunsdon was active in the Royal Canadian Legion.

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He served as president of the Summerland branch and was also the president of the Pacific Command of the Legion, and later the president of the Dominion Command of the Legion in the early 1980s.

During the time I knew him, the Legion was a huge part of his identity. And yet he did not talk about his wartime experiences.

It was not until the early 2000s that he shared with the Summerland Review the picture of himself in uniform.

The information accompanying the picture took up fewer than 50 words.

I recall him saying that some of the things he and others had witnessed during the war were so horrible they could not be spoken or relived.

This is why his picture is one of the most powerful images I have seen.

A man who had kept silent about his role in the Second World War was now offering a glimpse into that chapter of his life.

His is just one of the stories of those who served during the Second World War.

Others, including some who landed on Juno Beach on D-Day, would also say little about their time in uniform.

And while some veterans have been willing to talk about their wartime experiences, their message has always been one of preventing another war from happening.

The Second World War lasted six years and one day, from Sept. 1, 1939, to Sept. 2, 1945.

The death toll has been estimated at 70 to 85 million people, or roughly three per cent of the world’s population in 1940.

This includes military and civilian deaths.

These numbers do not include those who survived imprisonment, those who were injured or those who were affected in other ways as a result of the war.

Today, there are few remaining veterans of the Second World War. The youngest are in their 90s.

When their voices are gone, will we still be able to hear the same calls for peace?

Perhaps these voices will come from different places.

Today, we have refugees who have come to Canada from countries ravaged by war.

There are Syrian families who have fled that country’s ongoing civil war.

There are families from Vietnam who arrived in the late 1970s, following the end of the Vietnam War.

There are some who arrived in Canada from Eastern Europe during the Cold War, fleeing countries including Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

These people and others have felt the effects of war, not as soldiers but as civilians.

Their voices can remind us of the need for lasting peace.

It is up to us to listen.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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ColumnistRemembrance Day

 

Steve Dunsdon served in Europe from 1942 to 1945. After the Second World War, he was active in the Royal Canadian Legion in Summerland and at the national level. (Contributed)

Steve Dunsdon served in Europe from 1942 to 1945. After the Second World War, he was active in the Royal Canadian Legion in Summerland and at the national level. (Contributed)

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