A Multi-Media Book of Remembrance

A Canadian soldier fighting in trenches: Before and after

Excited and proud, we go off to war!

August, 19, 1014. It was an exciting day for me and my friends, it was that day when we enlisted to become a soldier, to fight for our country in the WWI. At the recruiting office, waves and waves of people kept rushing in, with proud looks on their faces. We were not surprised by this, as we, still young, thought war as no more then an exciting, fun adventure. Little did we know we will soon learn to regret our choices on that day.

Tried: 1914 to 1918

My war begins

Days after I enlisted to become a solider, I was sent to a training camp in Quebec. The trainings were hard, but that was expected. 2 month later, I was told I would join the 4th Canadian Division and was to be sent overseas immediately. I can hardly contain my excitement. My life had always been boring in the city, war is not only a great way to make a living, also a chance to really see the world. With a big, proud smile on my face, I went off to France.

Harsh reality - trench warfare

Nov 13, 1914. It has only been about 3 month since the war started, yet our men are already tired and scared. Afraid of the constant bombings in our trenches. The life there was horrible, we had to be on guard every second, without knowing when we are going to die. So many soldiers had passed on to the point that no one cared. Humanity seemed to be a mere memory of the past. Not only did we have to deal with the enemy on the other side, we also had to fight the terrible living conditions. Rats, trench foot, mud, and shell shock brought many men down to their knees, not to mention the extremely heavy equipment we were made to carry. My spirit had dropped to the point of desolation, but I know very well I can't go back now.

Tested: 1919 - 1923

Impact of war

Through fighting in the trenches, I found myself changing. I learned that if you cannot bring yourself to take someone's life, your life will then be taken. This helped me to survive the most horrifying years in my life. Many of my friends died smiling, feeling honoured to contribute to their country, knowing they will be remembered; but was patriotism really worth their lives? I had started to question the reality of war, I began to understand that war is not what I used to think it was. I was lucky, I survived my nightmare, but sometimes, I wished I didn't.

life after WWI

The war finally ended in 1918. Although I was sent home early 1917, I still felt overjoyed. Conscription was happening fast, so I feared if the fighting dragged on longer, a civil war will occur in our own country. Greeting the returning soldiers, I couldn't help but to brush a few tears away. These men all have different reactions the moment they touched Canadian land, some were relived, laughing and crying in joy, others weren't so happy, many cried over their dead peers, and a few of them stared straight, like in a trance, walking as if they were dead. I also noticed at least half of the men were missing parts of their body, just like myself. Since I am able to relate my own experiences and pain to theirs, I wished to help them, help the soldiers who lost sight of the future, so I became a Therapist/Psychiatrist. I am glad that many of my patients were able to forget, or to seal the memory of war far, far away inside their hearts. They were able to find new jobs and receive decent support form the government. It seems like we, as a country were steadily recovering. I couldn't be more thankful for that.

Transformed: 1924 - 1929

A new country

The devastating war had slowly been forgotten. Canada is finally able to restore itself. It had been a great time period for all of us. People were getting paid more, women had more rights and the soldiers received mental treatments and physical support. My number of patients were declining, so I was offered a job as a guide for a military museum, to inform others on what we had been through. I gladly took the job. Many other returned soldiers were able to look after themselves as well. The government had managed to bring our economy back to normal, poverty is no longer a major issue here. I had a family of my own, and now it is time for me to put down my pen and spent some time with them. Hope you had enjoyed my story, make sure to remember us, the living and the dead, for our contributions toward a better future. Thank you and goodbye.