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Corner Brook peacekeeper says remembering is crucial to prevent future conflict

Veteran Peacekeeper Mike Martin is seen during a National Peacekeepers’ Day event in Corner Brook in this file photo from August 2018.
Veteran Peacekeeper Mike Martin is seen during a National Peacekeepers’ Day event in Corner Brook in this file photo from August 2018. - FILE
CORNER BROOK, N.L. —

Mike Martin used to have two main targets when he’d get involved in remembrance projects — the adults and the children.

He’d remind the adult influence makers, the people who make war, what they were doing when they blatantly sent soldiers into battle.

For the children, the message was a bit different.

“Let them know what happened. Show them what happened and tell them that they mustn’t forget.”

Martin, 81, is a United Nations Peacekeeper who served in the time of the Cold War. He did two missions in the Gaza Strip in Egypt in 1958 and went to the Congo in 1960.

Talking about those times can be difficult.

“Especially when you remember old friends who never came home.”

Today the number of people to share the stories of the Second World War, the Korean War and peacekeeping operations are getting fewer and fewer.

"We make a pledge in the union that we will remember and it’s important that everyone remembers because, if you stop remembering what happened, you’ll do it again." — Mike Martin  

A member of the Western Newfoundland Chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, Martin said the group started out with about 22, but is now down to about eight.

Most Legions across the country are now run by civilians. Martin doesn't criticize, but said many are just not steeped in military tradition and don’t quite understand what was going on at the front lines. 

“It’s not their fault, they weren’t there.” 

A bad knee will keep him away from this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Corner Brook this coming Monday.

It’s an important event he has always looked forward to joining.

“It’s to connect spiritually. You’re standing there and you’re going back and you’re connecting with the memories of the people that you knew went over,” he said. “We make a pledge in the union that we will remember and it’s important that everyone remembers because, if you stop remembering what happened, you’ll do it again.  

“And as peacekeepers what we were trying to do was to stop it from happening again,” said Martin.

“So, it’s very sharp in our minds that we must remember. We will remember it because if not we’re going to be back blowing each other up again.”

Twitter: WS_DianeCrocker

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